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COMMENTARY ON THE ROMANS, (completed.) \ pty.^ IsSlie. 



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Commentary on the book of genesis. Vol. 

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2 / > 




12, South St Davi.l Struct 


Commentaries on the Gospel according to John are 
numerous, and some of them are written with great learning 
and ability. Barely has a separate and extended interpreta- 
tion been given to any of the other three Gospels, which are, 
indeed, so closely interwoven with each other, that it is scarce- 
ly possible to expound one of them in a satisfactory manner, 
without bringing the whole into one view, comparing parallel 
passages, accounting for apparent contradictions, and supply- 
ing the omissions of each narrative, to such an extent as to 
produce what shall be in substance, though not always in 
form, a Harmony of the Three Evangelists. 

Few of these difficulties meet the expositor of John's Gos- 
pel, in which the slender thread of narrative — until it reaches 
the period of the last sufferings of our Saviour — does little 
more than connect long discourses, which fie delivered to the 
multitude and to his disciples. Whatever opinion may be 
formed as to the theory of the elder Tittmann, that John 
wrote his work for the express purpose of proving the supreme 
Divinity of Christ, we Cannot avoid being struck with the fact, 
that the miracles which he selects are distinguished by pecu- 


liar grandeur, and that the discourses which he relates con- 
tain the most abundant and delightful exhibitions of the glory 
of the Son of God, and of the nature of his mediatorial office, 
which our great Master was pleased to make during his per- 
sonal ministry. 

Lampe, Hutcheson, and Tittmann, are better known, and 
more highly esteemed, in this country than any other Com- 
mentator on John that could be named. The three quarto 
volumes of Lampe are a monument of judicious toil, and pre- 
sent such stores of philological, historical, and theological 
learning as ought never to be mentioned but with respect 
and gratitude. Though not free from the faults of the Coc- 
ceian School, of which his miscellaneous treatises afford some 
unhappy proofs, his Commentary displays generally such cau- 
tion and judgment, that it deserves to be not only consulted, 
but perused throughout, and carefully studied. Hutcheson 
wanted both the acuteness and the industry requisite for the 
successful elucidation of the Holy Scriptures, but is justly ad- 
mired for the copiousness, variety, and excellence of his prac- 
tical observations. 

Tittmann's Meletemata Sacra in Evangelium Joannis, now 
happily rendered accessible to the English reader, 1 must be 
regarded as one of the most valuable contributions of modern 
times to biblical interpretation. Accurate scholarship, elegant 
and flowing language, deep reverence for the inspired volume, 
and a warmth of affectionate piety closely resembling that 
of the disciple ichom Jesus loved, have gained for that work a 
reputation which is likely to increase. To the reader who 
is chiefly desirous to ascertain the meaning of Scripture, and 
who willingly dispenses with what serves no other purpose 
than illustration, Tittmann's exposition of the first four Chap- 

' Clarke's Biblical Cabinet, vols. xliv. and xlv. 


ters of John's Gospel will be highly acceptable; though it 
must be acknowledged that the remaining portion of the work 
— not executed till towards the close of the life of the venera- 
ble author — is somewhat less attractive, and, if it has been pre- 
pared with equal care, yet, in consequence of extreme unwill- 
ingness to bring forward explanations which had been already 
given, it will sometimes disappoint one who only dips into 
an occasional passage, and has not made himself familiar 
with the profound views unfolded in the earlier pages. 

These and other eminent writers have been deeply indebted 
to Calvin's Commentary on John's Gospel, but have left 
its claims to the attention of all classes of readers as strong 
and urgent as ever. Where they differ from him, they often 
go astray, and where they agree with him, they generally fall 
below the instructive power of his own pen ; for few can 
equal his clear and vigorous statements. When he places in 
a just light — as he frequently does — those texts which had 
been wrested for the confutation of heretics, none but eager 
and unscrupulous controversialists will complain. Every 
honourable mind will admire the unbending integrity of our 
Author, which, even in the defence of truth, disdains to em- 
ploy an unlawful w T eapon, and devoutly bows to the dictates 
of the Holy Spirit. 

The present Work brings under review some of the most 
intricate questions in theology ; and in handling them he is 
not more careful to learn all that has been revealed than to 
avoid unauthorized speculation. They who know the diffi- 
culty of the path will the more highly appreciate so skilful a 
guide, who advances with a firm step, points out the bypaths 
which have misled the unwary, conducts us to scenes which 
we had not previously explored, and aids us in listening to a 
Divine voice which says, This is the u-<uj, uulh ye in it. 


In the Harmony of the Three Evangelists, the 
render is so constantly referred to this Commentary, which 
appeared two years sooner, that the benefit of the former 
cr.nnot be fully reaped, unless the latter be at hand. The 
Author's references arc sometimes vague, but the Translator 
has endeavoured to discover and point out the page in which 
the desired information may be obtained. 

W. P. 

AUCHTEKABDEK, lOfll April, 1847. 










Imprinted at London by Thomas Dawfon 
for Thomas Adams. 1610. 












It is an old saying, (Eight Honorable,) and no lesse true 
then olde, that saleable wines neede no iuie bush, which pro- 
uerb iniporteth thus much, that thinges which are of them- 
selues good & comendable haue not any, at leaste no greate 
need of commendation. If, therefore, I should with fine 
filed phrases, with gay geason woords, with straunge exam- 
ples, and notable hystories, compound some long Prologue 
and tedious Preface in commendation of this most excellent 
work and Commentarie of that famous member and faithfull 
Doctour of God's Church, Maister Iohn Caluine, I might 
cause your Honour to suspect the fondnesse thereof : I my 
selfe should seeme to doubte of the goodnesse thereof: and, 
finally, minister occasion to many to condemne me of folly. 
Omitting, therefore, that which is needlesse, I descend vnto 
that which is needefull : to wit, to excuse my selfe of arro- 
gancie wherof some may accuse me, in that I dare presume 
to dedicate vnto your Honour this my translation, vnto whom 
I am altogether vnknowne. The loade stone, as men say, 
writers do testifie and experience doth teach, hath in it selfe 


such power, force, and vertue, that it draweth iron vnto it 
though it be farre distant ; right so, vertue doth drawe men 
vnto it, and the reporte thereof causeth men to loue those 
whome they haue not seene, and to reuerence those of who 
they haue onely heard, which thing, sithence it is so, there is 
no cause why I shoulde either be accused of arrogancie or 
condemned of impudencie for approching so boldly vnto your 
Honour, and for suffering this my translation to appeare in 
your name. For your friendes confesse, and your foes can- 
not iustly denie, that God hath placed in your noble breast 
great aboundance of most heroicall vertues, I omit to speake 
of that rare report of your vnfeigned religion which resoundeth 
euery where, and redoundeth to your prayse. I should be 
tedious if I should set downe particularly the most vndoubted 
testimonies of your faithfulnesse toward your dread Souer- 
aigne : I should seeme to flatter if I would extoll that godly 
magnanimitie wherwith the Lord hath endued you to main- 
taine his truth, to defend the realm, to subdue those proud 
aspiring Papists. That great and earnest care which your 
Honour hath alwaies had, and euen now hath, to support the 
poore ministers of the Word and Gospell of Iesus Christ in 
God's cause, and in good causes, hath in it selfe sufficient 
force to enforce not onely me, but all thankfull heartes, by 
word and writing, to bewray all thankfulnesse and dutiful- 
nesse towards your good Honor, as this, so that singular lib- 
eralitie vsed at all times by your Lordship towards my friends, 
hath caused me, in dedicating of this booke to your Honour, 
to testifie some parte of my thankfull minde in their behalfe. 
And heere I am to craue pardon of you, whiche I hope I 
shall easily obtaine, for that I haue not behaued my selfe 
finely as I might though faithfully as I ought in this my 
worke. And thus, fearing prolixitie, I conclude, praying 
vnto the Lorde God of heauen and earth, that King of Kinges 
and Lorde of Lordes, that he will graunt vnto your Honour 
and to the rest (whom he hath placed in the like degree of 
dignitie) his Holy Spirite, that Spirite of wisdome and vnder- 

»e so directed that all you: 
may tend to the setting 
foorth of God's glory, the maintenance of true religion, the 


presentation of the realme. So shall England haue wealth, 
be voide of woe, enioy solace, be free from sorrow, possesse 
plentie, nor tast of pouertie, inherite pleasure, and not see 
paine. Which God graunt. 

Your Honour's most humble and obedient y 

Christopher Fetherstone. 


Being instantly requested (gentle reader) by my godly zeal- 
ous friendes, to enterprise the translating of this most learned 
Commentarie of M. Iohn Caluine, and being perswaded ther- 
vnto by many godly reasons, whereof God's glory and the 
profite of his Church should be the cheife, I could not nor 
would not refuse to take that charge vp on me, vnlesse I should 
haue forgotten my dutie towardes God, his Church, and my 
friendes ; and now, forasmuch (gentle reader) as the princi- 
pal recompence of my paines shal be that profit which thou 
shalt reape by the reading of this my translation, I beseech 
thee refuse not to take some paines in reading the same. I 
haue not stuft it full of strage words deriued of the Latine, 
which might no lesse molest thee then if they continued La- 
tine as they were. I haue not racked the phrases to make 
them runnc smoothly to please daintie eares, and so digressed 
from the truth and meaning of the authour ; but, so much as 
possible I could, I haue translated worde for worde, which 
the learned by conference shall wel perceiue. Long time 
haue the godly desired to haue this worke published in the 
English tongue, and seeing they haue their desire now, my 
request vnto them is to accept of my paines herein. I dare 
not, good reader, presume so flirre vpon mine owne skill as 
to saye that there is no faultes committed heerein, but I am 
earnestly to desire thee rather courteously to amend them 
then curiously to condemne me for them. And thus, trust- 
ing to thy curtiesie, I committe thee to the tuition of the 
Almightie, who so direct thee by his Spirite, that by read- 
ing thou maiest profite. 

Thine in the Lorde, 






I NEVER call to remembrance that saying of Christ, in which 
he sets so high a value on the duty of receiving strangers 
with kindness as to reckon it done to himself, without con- 
sidering, at the same time, the extraordinary honour which 
he has been pleased to confer on you, by making your city 
the resort, not of one or a few individuals, but of his Church 
at large. Among heathen countries hospitality was always 
commended, and was even accounted one of the principal 
virtues ; and, accordingly, when they intended to denounce 
any people as barbarians and savages of the lowest stamp, 
they called them cc^bvouc, or — which means the same thing — 
inhospitable. But far higher praise is due to you that, in 
these troublesome and unhappy times, the Lord has appointed 
you to be the persons whose support and protection should be 
solicited by godly and inoffensive men banished and driven 
from their native countries by the wicked and cruel tyranny 
of Antichrist. And not only so, but he has also dedicated to 


his name a sacred dwelling-place among you, where his wor- 
ship may be maintained in purity. 

Whoever attempts, in the slightest degree, openly to in- 
vade, or secretly to take from you, these two advantages, 
not only labours to deprive your city of its brightest orna- 
ments, but beholds its existence and safety with an envious 
eye. For though the kind offices which are here performed 
towards Christ and his scattered members excite the barking 
of wicked men against you, still you ought to look upon 
yourselves as abundantly compensated by this single consi- 
deration, that angels bless you from heaven, and the children 
of God bless you from every quarter of the world ; so that 
you may boldly despise the foul slander of those men who are 
not restrained either by scruples of conscience, or by shame, 
from pouring out more outrageous insults on God himself 
than on you, — nay, who, when they wish to calumniate you, 
begin with blaspheming God. Though this very occasion * 
kindles the rage of many people against you, yet you have no 
reason to dread any danger arising from it, so long as their 
fury shall be counteracted by the protection of His hand who 
hath promised that He will be the faithful Guardian of those 
cities in which the doctrine of His Gospel shall remain, and 
in which godly men, whom the world cannot endure, shall be 
permitted to dwell. I say nothing as to its being unneces- 
sary to give yourselves any uneasiness about conciliating this 
class of enemies ; for there is no man that is hostile to you 
for the sake of the Gospel, who would not desire to see you 
ruined or oppressed on other grounds. But granting that 
there were no other reason why you are hated by the avowed 
enemies of sound doctrine, than because they see you em- 
ployed in defending it, still, disregarding their stratagems 
and threatenings, you ought resolutely to defend those two 
impregnable bulwarks, the purity of religious worship, and a 
godly anxiety to maintain the Church which Christ has placed 
under the shelter of your wings. 

So far as relates to the slanders which are thrown at us 

(" Ascavoir que l'Evangile, et ceux qui y veulent adherer, ont yci 
leur retraitte,") — ("namely, that the Gospel, and those who wish to 
abide by it, have their retreat here.") 


by the Pope's hired brawlers — that we have apostatized from 
the Church, because we have withdrawn from subjection to 
the See of Rome — I wish it were as much in our power to 
protest with unshaken confidence before God and the angels, 
that we are at the greatest possible distance from that filthy 
puddle, as we can easily and readily defend ourselves from 
the crime which they are in the habit of laying to our charge. 
They boast, indeed, of the name of the Catholic Church, 
though no part of the whole doctrine of the Law and the 
Gospel has been permitted by them to remain free from 
shameful corruptions, though they have profaned the whole 
worship of God by the filth of their superstitions, and have 
not scrupled to debase all the ordinances of God by their 
inventions. Nay more, so Catholic — so universal — is the mass 
of errors by which they have overturned the whole of reli- 
gion, that it would be enough to destroy and swallow up the 
Church a hundred times over. We can never, therefore, ex- 
tol, in terms so lofty as the matter deserves, the unbounded 
goodness of God, by which we have miraculously escaped 
from that destructive whirlpool, and have fixed the anchor of 
our faith on the firm and everlasting truth of God. 1 And, 
indeed, this Commentary will itself, I trust, be a sufficient 
proof that Popery is nothing else than a monster formed out 
of the innumerable deceptions of Satan, and that what they 
call the Church is more confused than Babylon. 

Yet I will candidly acknowledge — what is actually true — 
that we are not at a sufficient distance from that filthy pit, 
the contagion of which is too widely spread. Antichrist com- 
plains that we have fallen away from him ; but we 2 are com- 
pelled to groan that too many of the pollutions with which 
he has infected the whole world remain amongst us. God 
has graciously restored to us 3 uncontaminated purity of doc- 
trine, religion in its primitive state, the unadulterated wor- 
ship of God, and a faithful administration of the Sacraments, 

1 The French version adds : "a ce qu'elle ne flottast plus parnii Ies 
traditions des homines ;" — " that it might no longer be tossed about among 
the traditions of men," 

2 " Nous qui taschons do remettre l'estat de l'Eglise a son cntier ;" — 
: ' wc who endeavour to restore the Church to her original condition." 

3 " Dieu par sa grace nous a restitue." 


as they were delivered to us by Christ. But the principal 
cause which hinders us from attaining that reformation of 
conduct and of life which ought to exist is, that very many 
persons, remembering that unbridled licentiousness in which 
the Papists indulge in opposition to the command of God, 
cannot become accustomed to the yoke of Christ. Accord- 
ingly, when our enemies, in order to excite against us un- 
founded dislike among the ignorant, raise a vexatious outcry 
that we have broken all discipline, their calumny is abun- 
dantly refuted (even though we should remain silent) by this 
single consideration, that at home we have no contest more 
severe than about — what is considered, at least, by many 
people to be — our excessive severity. But since you are the 
most competent witnesses for myself and my colleagues, that 
we are not more rigid and severe than the claim of duty de- 
mands and even compels us to be, as we freely submit to the 
decision of your conscience respecting us ; so, on the other 
hand, you will easily perceive at a glance the singularly 
ridiculous impudence of our enemies on this subject. 

I shall now say a few words about myself as an individual. 
Though I trust that my numerous writings will be a suffi- 
cient attestation to the world in what manner I have taught 
this Church, yet I have thought that it would be of very 
great importance for me to draw up a special record on this 
subject inscribed with your name ; for it is highly necessary 
that the kind of doctrine which you acknowledge to be taught 
by me should be exhibited to the view of all. 1 Now though, 
in all the books which I have hitherto published, it has been 
my endeavour that you and the people under your charge 
should derive advantage from them even after my death, and 
though it would be highly unbecoming that the doctrine 
which has emanated from your city to foreign nations should 
yield fruit extensively, but be neglected in the place of its 
abode, yet I trust that this Commentary, which is especially 
dedicated to you, will take a firmer hold of your memory. 
For this purpose I pray to God to inscribe it so deeply with 
His own finger on your hearts that it may never be obliterated 

1 The French copy adds: " afin qu'on n'en jugo point a l'aventure, ni 
a credit ;" — " that they may not judge of it at random, or on trust." 


by any stratagem of Satan ; for to Him does it belong to 
crown my labour with success, who has hitherto given me such 
courage as to desire nothing more than to watch faithfully 
over the safety of you all. Farther, as I freely acknowledge 
before the world that I am very far from possessing the care- 
ful diligence and the other virtues which the greatness and 
excellence of the office requires in a good Pastor, and as I 
continually bewail before God the numerous sins which 
obstruct my progress, so I venture to declare that I am not 
without an honest and sincere desire to perform my duty. 
And if, in the meantime, wicked men do not cease to annoy 
me, as it is my duty — by well-doing — to refute their slanders, 
so it will belong to you to restrain those slanders by the exer- 
cise of that sacred authority with which you are invested. 
Wherefore, my Illustrious and highly honoured Lords, I 
recommend you to the protection of our good God, entreat- 
ing Him to give you always the spirit of prudence and virtue 
for governing aright, and to make your administration pros- 
perous, so that His name may be thereby glorified, and that 
the result may be happy for you and yours. 1 

Geneva, 1st January, 1553. 

1 In the concluding sentence, the more amplified form of the French 
version has been followed. — Ed. 



The meaning of the Greek word svuyy$Xtov (Gospel) is well 
known. 1 In Scripture it denotes, by way of eminence, (xctr 
*t X% v i) * ne glad and delightful message of the grace exhi- 
bited to us in Christ, in order to instruct us, by despising 
the world and its fading riches and pleasures, to desire Avith 
our whole heart, and to embrace when offered to us, this 
invaluable blessing. The conduct which we perceive in irre- 
ligious men, who take an extravagant delight in the empty 
enjoyments of the world, while they are little, if at all, 
affected by a relish for spiritual blessings, is natural to us all. 
For the purpose of correcting this fault, God expressly 
bestows the name Gospel on the message which he orders to 
be proclaimed concerning Christ ; for thus he reminds us 
that nowhere else can true and solid happiness be obtained, 
and that in him we have all that is necessary for the perfec- 
tion of a happy life. 

Some consider the word Gospel as extending to all the 
gracious promises of God which are found scattered even in 
the Law and the Prophets. Nor can it be denied that, 
whenever God declares that he will be reconciled to men, 
and forgives their sins, he at the same time exhibits Christ, 
whose peculiar office it is, wherever he shines, to spread 

1 " On scait asscz que le mot d'Evangile signific entre lcs Grecs toutefi 
bonnes nouvelles ;" — " it is well known that the word Gospt I denotes in 
rireck any kind of good news." 


abroad the rays of joy. I acknowledge, therefore, that the 
Fathers were partakers of the same Gospel with ourselves, so 
far as relates to the faith of a gratuitous salvation. But as 
it is the ordinary declaration made by the Holy Spirit in the 
Scriptures, that the Gospel was first proclaimed when Christ 
came, let us also adhere to this mode of expression ; and let us 
keep by that definition of the Gospel which I have given, that 
it is a solemn publication of the grace revealed in Christ. On 
this account the Gospel is called the power of God to salvation 
to every one who believeth, (Rom. i. 16,) because in it God 
displays his righteousness. It is called also an embassy, by 
which he reconciles men to himself, (2 Cor. v. 20 ;) and as 
Christ is the pledge of the mercy of God, and of his fatherly 
love towards us, so he is, in a peculiar manner, the subject 
of the Gospel. 

Hence it came that the histories which relate that Christ 
appeared in the flesh, and died, and was raised from the 
dead, and at length was taken up into heaven, have pecu- 
liarly obtained the name Gospel. For although, for the 
reason already stated, this word means the New Testament, 
yet the name which denotes the whole has come, by general 
practice, to stand for that part of it which declares that 
Christ was manifested to us in the flesh, and died, and rose 
from the dead. But as the bare history would not be 
enough, and, indeed, would be of no advantage for salvation, 
the Evangelists do not merely relate that Christ was born, 
and that he died and vanquished death, but also explain for 
what purpose he was born, and died, and rose again, and 
what benefit we derive from those events. 

Yet there is also this difference between them, that the 
other three are more copious in their narrative of the life and 
death of Christ, but John dwells more largely on the doc- 
trine by which the office of Christ, together with the power 
of his death and resurrection, is unfolded. They do not, 
indeed, omit to mention that Christ came to bring salvation 
to the world, to atone for the sins of the world by the sacri- 
fice of his death, and, in short, to perform every thing that 
was required from the Mediator, (as John also devotes a por- 
tion of his work to historical details;) but the doctrine, 


which points out to us the power and benefit of the coming 
of Christ, is far more clearly exhibited by him than by the 
rest. And as all of them had the same object in view, to 
point out Christ, the three former exhibit his body, if we 
may be permitted to use the expression, but John exhibits 
his soul. On this account, I am accustomed to say that this 
Gospel is a key to open the door for understanding the rest ; 
for whoever shall understand the power of Christ, as it is 
here strikingly portrayed, will afterwards read with advan- 
tage what the others relate about the Redeemer who was 

John is believed to have written chiefly with the intention 
of maintaining the Divinity of Christ, in opposition to the 
wicked blasphemies of Ebion and Cerinthus; and this is 
asserted by Eusebius and Jerome, in accordance with the 
general opinion of the ancients. But whatever might be his 
motive for writing at that time, there can be no doubt what- 
ever that God intended a far higher benefit for his Church. 
He therefore dictated to the Four Evangelists what they 
should write, in such a manner that, while each had his OAvn 
part assigned him, the whole might be collected into one 
body ; and it is our duty now to blend the Four by a mutual 
relation, so that we may permit ourselves to be taught by all 
of them, as by one mouth. As to John being placed the 
fourth in order, it was done on account of the time when he 
wrote ; but in reading them, a different order would be more 
advantageous, which is, that when we wish to read in 
Matthew and the others, that Christ was given to us by the 
Father, we should first learn from John the purpose for 
which he was manifested. 








1. In the beginning was the Speech, and the Speech was with God, and 
the Speech was God. 2. He was in the beginning with God. 3. All 
things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that 
was made. 4. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5. And 
the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

1. In the beginning was the Speech. In this introduction 
he asserts the eternal Divinity of Christ, in order to inform 
us that he is the eternal God, who was manifested in thejlesh, 
(1 Tim. iii. 16.) The design is, to show it to have been 
necessary that the restoration of mankind should be accom- 
plished by the Son of God, since by his power all things 
were created, since he alone breathes into all the creatures 
life and energy, so that they remain in their condition ; and 
since in man himself he has given a remarkable display both 
of his power and of his grace, and even subsequently to the 
fall of man has not ceased to show liberality and kindness 
towards his posterity. And this doctrine is highly necessary 
to be known ; for since apart from God we ought not at all 

VOL. I. B 


to seek life and salvation, how could our faith rest on Christ, 
if we did not know with certainty what is here taught ? By 
these words, therefore, the Evangelist assures us that we do 
not withdraw from the only and eternal God, when we be- 
lieve in Christ, and likewise that life is now restored to the 
dead through the kindness of him who was the source and 
cause of life, when the nature of man was still uncorrupted. 

As to the Evangelist calling the Son of God the Speech, 
the simple reason appears to me to be, first, because he is the 
eternal Wisdom and Will of God ; and, secondly, because he 
is the lively image of His purpose ; for, as Speech is said to be 
among men the image of the mind, so it is not inappropriate 
to apply this to God, and to say that He reveals himself to 
us by his Speech. The other significations of the Greek 
word Xoyog {Logos) do not apply so well. It means, no 
doubt, definition, and reasoning, and calculation; but I am 
unwilling to carry the abstruseness of philosophy beyond the 
measure of my faith. And we perceive that the Spirit of 
God is so far from approving of such subtleties that, in 
prattling with us, by his very silence he cries aloud with 
what sobriety we ought to handle such lofty mysteries. 

Now as God, in creating the world, revealed himself by 
that Speech, so he formerly had him concealed with himself, 
so that there is a twofold relation ; the former to God, and 
the latter to men. Servetus, a haughty scoundrel belonging 
to the Spanish nation, invents the statement, that this eternal 
Speech began to exist at that time when he was displayed in 
the creation of the world, as if he did not exist before his 
power was made known by external operation. Very differ- 
ently does the Evangelist teach in this passage ; for he does 
not ascribe to the Speech a beginning of time, but says that he 
was from the beginning, and thus rises beyond all ages. I am 
fully aware how this dog barks against us, and what cavils 
were formerly raised by the Arians, namely, that in the be- 
ginning God created the heaven and the earth, (Gen. i. 1,) 
which nevertheless are not eternal, because the word begin- 
ning refers to order, instead of denoting eternity. But the 
Evangelist meets this calumny Avhen he says, 

And the Speech was with God. If the Speech began to be 


at some time, they must find out some succession of time in 
God ; and undoubtedly by this clause John intended to dis- 
tinguish him from all created things. For many questions 
might arise, " Where was this Speech ? How did he exert 
his power ? What was his nature ? How might he be 
known?" The Evangelist, therefore, declares that we must 
not confine our views to the world and to created things ; 
for he was always united to God, before the world existed. 
Now when men date the beginning from the origin of heaven 
and earth, do they not reduce Christ to the common order 
of the world, from which he is excluded in express terms by 
this passage ? By this proceeding they offer an egregious 
insult not only to the Son of God, but to his eternal Father, 
whom they deprive of his wisdom. If we are not at liberty 
to conceive of God without his wisdom, it must be acknow- 
ledged that we ought not to seek the origin of the Speech any 
where else than in the Eternal Wisdom of God. 

Servetus objects that the Speech cannot be admitted to 
have existed any earlier than when Moses introduces God as 
speaking. As if he did not subsist in God, because he was 
not publicly made known : that is, as if he did not exist 
within, until he began to appear icithout. But every pretence 
for outrageously absurd fancies of this description is cut off 
by the Evangelist, when he affirms without reservation, that 
the Speech was with God ; for he expressly withdraws us from 
every moment of time. 

Those who infer from the imperfect tense of the verb 1 
which is here used, that it denotes continued existence, have 
little strength of argument to support them. Was, they say, 
is a word more fitted to express the idea of uninterrupted 
succession, than if John had said, Has been. But on matters 
so weighty we ought to employ more solid arguments ; and, 
indeed, the argument which I have brought forward ought to 
be reckoned by us sufficient ; namely, that the Evangelist 
sends us to the eternal secrets of God, that we may there 
leam that the Speech was, as it were, hidden, before he re- 
vealed himself in the external structure of the world. Justly, 

1 " Pource qu'il est dit Estoit, ct non pas N'este ;" — " Because it is 
said Was, and not Has been.'''' 


therefore, does Augustine remark, that this beginning, which 
is now mentioned, has no beginning ; for though, in the order 
of nature, the Father came before his Wisdom, yet those who 
conceive of any point of time when he went before his Wis- 
dom, deprive him of his glory. And this is the eternal gene- 
ration, which, during a period of infinite extent before the 
foundation of the world, lay hid in God, so to speak — which, 
for a long succession of years, was obscurely shadowed out 
to the Fathers under the Law, and at length was more fully 
manifested in flesh. 

I wonder what induced the Latins to render 6 \6yog by 
Verbum, (the Word ;) for that would rather have been the 
translation of rb ffipa. But granting that they had some 
plausible reason, still it cannot be denied that Sermo (the 
Speech) would have been far more appropriate. Hence it is 
evident, what barbarous tyranny was exercised by the theo- 
logians of the Sorbonne, 1 who teazed and stormed at Eras- 
mus in such a manner, because he had changed a single word 
for the better. 

And the Speech ivas with God. We have already said that 
the Son of God is thus placed above the world and above all 
the creatures, and is declared to have existed Before all ages. 
But at the same time this mode of expression attributes to 
him a distinct personality from the Father ; for it would have 
been absurd in the Evangelist to say that the Speech icas 
always iciih God, if he had not some kind of subsistence 
peculiar to himself in God. This passage serves, therefore, 
to refute the error of Sabellius ; for it shows that the Son is 
distinct from the Father. I have already remarked that we 
ought to be sober in thinking, and modest in speaking, about 
such high mysteries. And yet the ancient writers of the 
Church were excusable, when, finding that they could not in 
any other way maintain sound and pure doctrine in opposi- 
tion to the perplexed and ambiguous phraseology of the 
heretics, they were compelled to invent some words, which 
after all had no other meaning than what is taught in the 
Scriptures. They said that there are three Hypostases, or 

1 " Les Theolosiezis Sorbonistes." 


Subsistences, or Persons, in the one and simple essence of 
God. The word wrdtraag (Hypostasis) occurs in this sense 
in Heb. i. 3, to which corresponds the Latin word Substantia, 
(substance,) as it is employed by Hilary. The Persons (rd 
vgosuva) were called by them distinct properties in God, which 
present themselves to the view of our minds ; as Gregory 
Nazianzen says, " I cannot think of the One (God) without 
having the Three (Persons) shining around me." 1 

And the Speech was God. That there may be no remaining 
doubt as to Christ's divine essence, the Evangelist distinctly 
asserts that he is God. Now since there is but one God, it 
follows that Christ is of the same essence with the Father, 
and yet that, in some respect, he is distinct from the Father. 
But of the second clause we have already spoken. As to the 
unity of the divine essence, Arius showed prodigious wicked- 
ness, when, to avoid being compelled to acknowledge the 
eternal Divinity of Christ, he prattled about I know not what 
imaginary Deity ; 2 but for our part, when we are informed 
that the Speech was God, what right have we any longer to 
call in question his eternal essence ? 

2. He was in the beginning. In order to impress more 
deeply on our minds what had been already said, the Evan- 
gelist condenses the two preceding clauses into a brief sum- 
mary, that the Speech always ivas, and that he was with God; 
so that it may be understood that the begi?ining was before all 

3. All things were made by him. Having affirmed that the 
Speech is God, and having asserted his eternal essence, he now 
proves his Divinity from his works. And this is the practical 
knowledge, to which we ought to be chiefly accustomed ; for 

1 The reader will find our Author's views of the Holy Trinity very fully 
illustrated in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book I. Chap, xiii., 
and will be at a loss whether to admire most the marvellous acuteness, 
or the sobriety of judgment, by which the whole discussion is pervaded. — 

2 " Que c'estoit je ne scay quel Dieu qui avoit este cree, et eu com- 
mencement ;" — " That there was I know not what God who had been 
created, and had a beginning." 


the mere name of God attributed to Christ will affect us 
little, if our faith do not feel it to be such by experience. In 
reference to the Son of God, he makes an assertion which 
strictly and properly applies to his person. Sometimes, 
indeed, Paul simply declares that all things are by God, (Rom. 
xi. 36 ;) but whenever the Son is compared with the Father, 
he is usually distinguished by this mark. Accordingly, 
the ordinary mode of expression is here employed, that the 
Father made all things by the Son, and that all things are by 
God through the Son. Now the design of the Evangelist is, 
as I have already said, to show that no sooner was the world 
created than the Speech of God came forth into external 
operation ; for having formerly been incomprehensible in his 
essence, he then became publicly known by the effect of his 
power. There are some, indeed, even among philosophers, 
who make God to be the Master-builder of the world in such 
a manner as to ascribe to him intelligence in framing this 
work. So far they are in the right, for they agree with 
Scripture ; but as they immediately fly off into frivolous 
speculations, there is no reason why we should eagerly desire 
to have their testimonies ; but, on the contrary, we ought to 
be satisfied with this inspired declaration, well knowing that 
it conveys far more than our mind is able to comprehend. 

And without him was not any thing made that was made. 
Though there is a variety of readings in this passage, yet for 
my own part, I have no hesitation in taking it continuously 
thus : not any thing was made that was made; and in this almost 
all the Greek manuscripts, or at least those of them which 
are most approved, are found to agree ; besides, the sense 
requires it. Those who separate the words, which ivas made, 
from the preceding clause, so as to connect them with the 
following one, bring out a forced sense : what was made teas 
in him life ; that is, lived, or was sustained in life. 1 But they 

i The difference of readings lies wholly in the punctuation, and the dis- 
pute is, whether the words o ysyoi/tv shall form the conclusion of the Third, 
or the commencement of the Fourth verse. Calvin expresses his con- 
currence with the majority of manuscripts, which connect the words in 
question with the Third verse thus : Kxt %uq\s xvtov iyiuiro ciihs ev 8 
yiyovtv, and without him was not any thing made, (or, more literally, as 
well as more emphatically,) and loithout him was not one thing made — 


will never show that this mode of expression is, in any instance, 
applied to creatures. Augustine, who is excessively addicted 
to the philosophy of Plato, is carried along, according to 
custom, to the doctrine of ideas ; that before God made the 
world, he had the form of the whole building conceived in 
his mind ; and so the life of those things which did not yet 
exist was in Christ, because the creation of the world wss 
appointed in him. But how widely different this is from the 
intention of the Evangelist we shall immediately see. 

I now return to the former clause. This is not a faulty 
redundancy, (cgo/T-roXoy/a,) as it appears to be ; for as Satan 
endeavours, by every possible method, to take any thing from 
Christ, the Evangelist intended to declare expressly, that of 
those things which have been made there is no exception what- 

4. In him teas life. Hitherto he has taught us, that by 
the Speech of God all things icere created. He now attributes 
to him, in the same manner, the preservation of those things 
which had been created ; as if he had said, that in the creation 
of the world there was not merely displayed a sudden exer- 
cise of his power, which soon passed away, but that it is 
manifested in the steady and regular order of nature, as he is 
said to uphold all things by the word or will of his power, (Heb. 
i. 3.) This life may be extended either to inanimate creatures, 
(which live after their own manner, though they are devoid 
of feeling,) or may be explained in reference to living creatures 
alone. It is of little consequence which you choose ; for the 
simple meaning is, that the Speech of God was not only the 
source of life to all the creatures, so that those which were 
not began to be, but that his life-giving power causes them to 
remain in their condition ; for were it not that his continued 
inspiration gives vigour to the world, every thing that lives 
would immediately decay, or be reduced to nothing. In a 

which was made. Other manuscripts, certainly of no great authority, 
connect them with the Fourth verse : K«i x u %i? uvrov iyivsro ovli 'in. 
O yiyoviv h xvru £a»j -fa. And loithout him was not one thing made. 
What was made was in Mm life. The preference given by our Author 
rests on grounds which can scarcely be questioned. — Ed. 


word, what Paul ascribes to God, that in him we are, and 
move, and live, (Acts xvii. 28,) John declares to be accom- 
plished by the gracious agency of the Speech ; so that it is 
God who gives us life, but it is by the eternal Speech. 

The life was the light of men. The other interpretations, 
which do not accord with the meaning of the Evangelist, I 
intentionally pass by. He speaks here, in my opinion, of that 
part of life in which men excel other animals ; and informs 
us that the life which was bestowed on men was not of an 
ordinary description, but was united to the light of under- 
standing. He separates man. from the rank of other crea- 
tures ; because we perceive more readily the power of God 
by feeling it in us than by beholding it at a distance. Thus 
Paul charges us not to seek God at a distance, because he 
makes himself to be felt within us, (Acts xvii. 27.) After 
having presented a general exhibition of the kindness of 
Christ, in order to induce men to take a nearer view of it, he 
points out what has been bestowed peculiarly on themselves ; 
namely, that they were not created like the beasts, but hav- 
ing been endued with reason, they had obtained a higher 
rank. As it is not in vain that God imparts his light to their 
minds, it follows that the purpose for which they were 
created was, that they might acknowledge Him who is the 
Author of so excellent a blessing. And since this light, of 
which the Speech was the source, has been conveyed from him 
to us, it ought to serve as a mirror, in which we may clearly 
behold the divine power of the Speech. 

f 5. And the light shineth in darkness. It might be objected, 
that the passages of Scripture in which men are called blind 
are so numerous, and that the blindness for which they are 
condemned is but too well known. For in all their reasoning 
faculties they miserably fail. How comes it that there are 
so many labyrinths of errors in the world, but because men, 
by their own guidance, are led only to vanity and lies ? But 
if no light appears in men, that testimony of the divinity of 
Christ, which the Evangelist lately mentioned, is destroyed ; 
for that is the third step, as I have said, that in the life of 
men there is something more excellent than motion and 


breathing. The Evangelist anticipates this question, and 
first of all lays down this caution, that the light which was 
originally bestowed on men must not be estimated by their 
present condition ; because in this corrupted and degenerate 
nature light has been turned into darkness. And yet he 
affirms that the light of understanding is not wholly extin- 
guished ; for, amidst the thick darkness of the human mind, 
some remaining sparks of the brightness still shine. 

My readers now understand that this sentence contains two 
clauses ; for he says that men are noAV widely distant from 
that perfectly holy nature with which they were originally 
endued ; because their understanding, which ought to have 
shed light in every direction, has been plunged in darkness, 
and is wretchedly blinded ; and that thus the glory of Christ 
may be said to be darkened amidst this corruption of nature. 
But, on the other hand, the Evangelist maintains that, in the 
midst of the darkness, there are still some remains of light, 
which show in some degree the divine power of Christ. The 
Evangelist admits, therefore, that the mind of man is blinded ; 
so that it may justly be pronounced to be covered with dark- 
ness. For he might have used a milder term, and might have 
said that the light is dark or cloudy ; but he chose to state 
more distinctly how wretched our condition has become since 
the fall of the first man. The statement that the light shineth 
in darkness is not at all intended for the commendation of 
depraved nature, but rather for taking away every excuse for 

And the darkness did not comprehend it. Although by that 
small measure of light which still remains in us, the Son of 
God has always invited men to himself, yet the Evangelist 
says that this was attended by no advantage, because seeing, 
they did not see, (Matth. xiii. 13.) For since man lost the 
favour of God, his mind is so completely overwhelmed by the 
thraldom of ignorance, that any portion of light which 
remains in it is quenched and useless. This is daily proved 
by experience ; for all who are not regenerated by the Spirit 
of God possess some reason, and this is an undeniable proof 
that man was made not only to breathe, but to have under- 
standing. But by that guidance of their reason they do not 


come to God, and do not even approach to him ; so that all 
their understanding is nothing else than mere vanity. Hence 
it follows that there is no hope of the salvation of men, unless 
God grant new aid ; for though the Son of God sheds his 
light upon them, they are so dull that they do not comprehend 
whence that light proceeds, but are carried away by foolish 
and wicked imaginations to absolute madness. 

The light which still dwells in corrupt nature consists chiefly 
of two parts ; for, first, all men naturally possess some seed 
of religion ; and, secondly, the distinction between good and 
evil is engraven on their consciences. But what are the 
fruits that ultimately spring from it, except that religion 
degenerates into a thousand monsters of superstition, and 
conscience perverts every decision, so as to confound vice 
with virtue ? In short, natural reason never will direct men 
to Christ ; and as to their being endued with prudence for 
regulating their lives, or born to cultivate the liberal arts and 
sciences, all this passes away without yielding any advantage. 

It ought to be understood that the Evangelist speaks of 
natural gifts only, and does not as yet say any thing about 
the grace of regeneration. For there are two distinct powers 
which belong to the Son of God : the first, which is mani- 
fested in the structure of the world and the order of nature ; 
and the second, by which he renews and restores fallen 
nature. As he is the eternal Speech of God, by him the world 
was made ; by his power all things continue to possess the 
life which they once received ; man especially was endued 
with an extraordinary gift of understanding ; and though by 
his revolt he lost the light of understanding, yet he still sees 
and understands, so that what he naturally possesses from 
the grace of the Son of God is not entirely destroyed. But 
since by his stupidity and perverseness he darkens the light 
which still dwells in him, it remains that a new office be 
undertaken by the Son of God, the office of Mediator, to 
renew, by the Spirit of regeneration, man who had been 
ruined. Those persons, therefore, reason absurdly and incon- 
clusively, who refer this light, which the Evangelist mentions, 
to the gospel and the doctrine of salvation. 


6. There was a man sent by God, whose name was John. 7. He came 
for a testimony, 1 that he might testify of the light ; that by him all might 
believe. 8. He was not that light, but that he might testify concerning 
the light. 9. The true light was that which onlighteneth every man who 
cometh into the world. 10. He was in the world, and the world was made 
by him, and the world knew him not. 11. He came into his own, and his 
own received him not. 12. But as many as received him, to them gave 
he power to become the sons of God ; namely, to those who believe in 
his name ; 13. Who were born not of bloods, a nor of the will of the flesh, 
nor of the will of man, but of God. 

6. There was a man. The Evangelist now begins to dis- 
course about the manner in which the Son of God was mani- 
fested in flesh ; and that none may doubt that Christ is the 
eternal Son of God, he relates that Christ was announced by 
John the Baptist, as his herald. For not only did Christ 
exhibit himself to be seen by men, but he chose also to be 
made known by the testimony and doctrine of John; or 
rather, God the Father sent this witness before his Christ, 
that they might more willingly receive the salvation offered 
by him. 

But it might at first sight appear ridiculous that Christ 
should receive testimony from another, as if he needed it; 
while, on the contrary, he declares that he does not seek testi- 
mony from man, (John v. 34.) The answer is easy and 
obvious, that this witness was appointed, not for the sake of 
Christ, but for our sake. If it be objected that the testimony 
of man is too weak to prove that Christ is the Son of God, 
it is likewise easy to reply, that the Baptist is not adduced 
as a private witness, but as one who, having received authority 
from God, sustained the character rather of an angel than of 
a man. Accordingly, he receives commendation not for his 
own virtues, but for this single circumstance, that he was the 
ambassador of God. Nor is this at variance with the fact, 
that the preaching of the gospel was committed to Christ, 
that he might be a witness to himself; for the design contem- 
plated by the preaching of John was, that men might attend 
to the doctrine and miracles of Christ. 

Sent by God. He does not say so for the purpose of 

1 Pour (porter) tesmoignage ;" — " to bear testimony." 

; ' Nais de sangs, ou, de sang ;" — " born of bloods, or, of blood." 


confirming the baptism of John, but only mentions it in 
passing. This circumstance is not sufficient to produce 
certainty, since many run of their own accord, and boast that 
God has sent them ; but the Evangelist, intending afterwards 
to speak more fully about this witness, reckoned it enough, for 
the present, to say in a single word, that John did not come 
but by the command of God. We shall afterwards see how 
he himself affirms that God is the Author of his ministry. 
We must now recollect — what I formerly noticed — that what 
is asserted about John is required in all the teachers of the 
Church, that they be called by God ; so that the authority 
of teaching may not be founded on any other than on God 

Whose name was John. He states the name, not only for 
the purpose of pointing out the man, but because it was given 
to him in accordance with what he really was. There is no 
room to doubt that the Lord had reference to the office to 
which he appointed John, when he commanded by the angel 
that he should be so called, that by means of it all might 
acknowledge him to be the herald of divine grace. 1 For 
though the name prWT ' (Jehohannan) may be taken in a 
passive signification, and may thus be referred to the person, 
as denoting that John was acceptable to God ; yet for my own 
part, I willingly extend it to the benefit which others ought 
to derive from him. 3 

7. He came for a testimony. The end of his calling is 
briefly noticed ; which was, that he might prepare a Church 
for Christ, as, by inviting all to Christ, he shows plainly 
enough that he did not come on his own account. 

8. He icas not that light. So far was John from needing 
commendation, that the Evangelist gives this warning, lest 

1 " Heraut et ambassade de la grace de Dieu ;" — " Herald and ambas- 
sador of the grace of God." 

2 "Le nom de Jean, qui signifie Grace;" — "The name John, which 
signifies Grace." 

3 For the meaning of the name John, derived from the Hebrew Jeho- 
hannan, the reader may consult our Author's Commentary on the Harmon;/ 
of the Three Evangelists, vol. i. p. 15. — Ed. 


his excessive brightness might obscure the glory of Christ. 
For there were some who gazed so eagerly upon him that 
they neglected Christ ; just as if a person, enraptured with 
beholding the dawning of the day, would not deign to turn 
his eyes towards the sun. In what sense the Evangelist 
employs the word light we shall immediately see. All the 
godly, indeed, are light in the Lord, (Eph. v. 8,) because, in 
consequence of their being enlightened by his Spirit, they 
not only see for themselves, but likewise direct others by 
their example to the way of salvation. The apostles likewise 
are peculiarly called light, (Matth. v. 14,) because they go 
before, holding out the torch of the Gospel, to dispel the 
darkness of the world. But here the Evangelist speaks of 
him who is the only and eternal source of illumination, as he 
immediately shows more clearly. 

9. The true light ivas. The Evangelist did not intend to 
contrast the true light with the false, but to distinguish Christ 
from all others, that none might imagine that what is called 
light belongs to him in common with angels or men. The 
distinction is, that whatever is luminous in heaven and in earth 
borrows its splendour from some other object ; but Christ is 
the light, shining from itself and by itself, and enlightening 
the whole world by its radiance ; so that no other source or 
cause of splendour is anywhere to be found. He gave the 
name of the true light, therefore, to that which has by nature 
the power of giving light. 

Which enlighteneth everg man. The Evangelist insists 
chiefly on this point, in order to show, from the effect which 
every one of us perceives in him, that Christ is the light. He 
might have reasoned more ingeniously, that Christ, as the 
eternal light, has a splendour which is natural, and not brought 
from any other quarter ; but instead of doing so, he sends us 
back to the experience which we all possess. For as Christ 
makes us all partakers of his brightness, it must be acknow- 
ledged that to him alone belongs strictly this honour of being 
called light. 

This passage is commonly explained in two ways. Some 
restrict the phrase, everg man, to those who, having been 


renewed by the Spirit of God, become partakers of the life- 
giving light. Augustine employs the comparison of a school- 
master who, if he happen to be the only person who has a 
school in the town, will be called the teacher of all, though 
there be many persons that do not go to his school. They 
therefore understand the phrase in a comparative sense, that 
all are enlightened by Christ, because no man can boast of 
having obtained the light of life in any other way than by his 
grace. But as the Evangelist employs the general phrase, 
every man that cometh into the tcorld, I am more inclined to 
adopt the other meaning, which is, that from this light the 
rays are diffused over all mankind, as I have already said. 
For we know that men have this peculiar excellence which 
raises them above other animals, that they are endued with 
reason and intelligence, and that they carry the distinction 
between right and wrong engraven on their conscience. 
There is no man, therefore, whom some perception of the 
eternal light does not reach. 

But as there are fanatics who rashly strain and torture 
this passage, so as to infer from it that the grace of illumina- 
tion is equally offered to all, let us remember that the only 
subject here treated is the common light of nature, which is 
far inferior to faith ; for never will any man, by all the 
acuteness and sagacity of his own mind, penetrate into the 
kingdom of God. It is the Spirit of God alone who opens 
the gate of heaven to the elect. Next, let us remember that 
the light of reason which God implanted in men has been so 
obscured by sin, that amidst the thick darkness, and shocking 
ignorance, and gulf of errors, there are hardly a few shining 
sparks that are not utterly extinguished. 

10. He u-as in the tcorld. He accuses men of ingratitude, 
because of their own accord, as it were, they were so blinded, 
that the cause of the light which they enjoyed was unknown 
to them. This extends to every age of the world ; for before 
Christ was manifested in the flesh, his power was everywhere 
displayed ; and therefore those daily effects ought to correct 
the stupidity of men. What can be more unreasonable than 
to draw water from a running stream, and never to think 


of the fountain from which that stream flows ? It follows that 
no proper excuse can be found for the ignorance of the world 
in not knowing Christ, before he was manifested in the flesh ; 
for it arose from the indolence and wicked stupidity of those 
who had opportunities of seeing Him always present by his 
power. The whole may be summed up by saying, that 
never was Christ in such a manner absent from the world, but 
that men, aroused by his rays, ought to have raised their eyes 
towards him. Hence it follows, that the blame must be im- 
puted to themselves. 

11. He came into his own. Here is displayed the absolutely 
desperate wickedness and malice of men ; here is displayed 
their execrable impiety, that when the Son of God was mani- 
fested in flesh to the Jews, whom God had separated to him- 
self from the other nations to be His own heritage, he was 
not acknowledged or received. This passage also has re- 
ceived various explanations. For some think that the Evan- 
gelist speaks of the whole world indiscriminately ; and cer- 
tainly there is no part of the world which the Son of God 
may not lawfully claim as his own property. According to 
them, the meaning is : " When Christ came down into the 
world, he did not enter into another person's territories, for the 
whole, human race was his own inheritance." But I approve 
more highly of the opinion of those who refer it to the Jews 
alone ; for there is an implied comparison, by which the 
Evangelist represents the heinous ingratitude of men. The 
Son of God had solicited an abode for himself in one nation ; 
when he appeared there, he was rejected ; and this shows 
clearly the awfully wicked blindness of men. In making this 
statement, the sole object of the Evangelist must have been 
to remove the offence which many would be apt to take in 
consequence of the unbelief of the Jews. For when he was 
despised and rejected by that nation to which he had been 
especially promised, who would reckon him to be the Re- 
deemer of the whole world? We see what extraordinary 
pains the Apostle Paul takes in handling this subject. 

Here both the Verb and the Noun are highly emphatic. 
He came. The Evangelist says that the Son of God came to 


that place where he formerly was ; and by this expression he 
must mean a new and extraordinary kind of presence, by 
which the Son of God was manifested, so that men might 
have a nearer view of him. Into his own. By this phrase 
the Evangelist compares the Jews with other nations ; be- 
cause by an extraordinary privilege they had been adopted 
into the family of God. Christ therefore was first offered to 
them as his own household, and as belonging to his empire 
by a peculiar right. To the same purpose is that complaint 
of God by Isaiah : Tlie ox knowcth his owner, and the ass his 
master's crib, but Israel knoweth me not, (Isa. i. 3;) for though 
he has dominion over the whole world, yet he represents him- 
self to be, in a peculiar manner, the Lord of Israel, whom he 
had collected, as it were, into a sacred fold. 

12. But to as many as received him. That none may be 
retarded by this stumbling-block, that the Jews despised and 
rejected Christ, the Evangelist exalts above heaven the godly 
who believe in him ; for he says that by faith they obtain this 
glory of being reckoned the sons of God. The universal 
term, as many, contains an implied contrast ; for the Jews 
were carried away by a blind vaunting, 1 as if they exclusively 
had God bound to themselves. The Evangelist declares that 
their condition is changed, because the Jews have been re- 
jected, and their place, which had been left empty, is occu- 
pied by the Jews ; for it is as if he transferred the right of 
adoption to strangers. This is what Paul says, that the 
destruction of one nation was the life of the whole world, 
(Horn. xi. 12 ;) for the Gospel, which might be said to have 
been banished from them, began to be spread far and Avide 
throughout the whole world. They were thus deprived of 
the privilege which they enjoyed above others. But their 
impiety was no obstruction to Christ ; for he erected else- 
where the throne of his kingdom, and called indiscriminately 
to the hope of salvation all nations which formerly appeared 
to have been rejected by God. 

1 " D'unc vanterie aveuglce ; c'est a dire, n'entendans pas ce qu'ils 
disoyent;" — " by a blind vaunting ; that is, not understanding what they 


He gave them power. The word s^ovala here appears to me 
to mean a right, or claim ; and it would be better to translate 
it so, in order to refute the false opinions of the Papists ; for 
they wickedly pervert this passage by understanding it to 
mean, that nothing more than a choice is allowed to us, if we 
think fit to avail ourselves of this privilege. In this way they 
extract free-will from this phrase ; but as well might they 
extract fire from water. There is some plausibility in this at 
first sight ; for the Evangelist does not say that Christ makes 
them sons of God, but that he gives them poioer to become 
such. Hence they infer that it is this grace only that is 
offered to us, and that the liberty to enjoy or to reject it is 
placed at our disposal. But this frivolous attempt to catch 
at a single word is set aside by what immediately follows ; 
for the Evangelist adds, that they become the sons of God, not 
by the will which belongs to thejiesh, but when they are born 
of God. But if faith regenerates us, so that we are the sons 
of God, and if God breathes faith into us from heaven, it 
plainly appears that not by possibility only, but actually — as 
we say — is the grace of adoption offered to us by Christ. 
And, indeed, the Greek word s^ouaia is sometimes put for 
afyoHJis, (a claim,) a meaning which falls in admirably with 
this passage. 

The circumlocution which the Evangelist has employed 
tends more to magnify the excellence of grace, than if he had 
said in a single word, that all who believe in Christ are made 
by him sons of God. For he speaks here of the unclean and 
profane, who, having been condemned to perpetual ignominy, 
lay in the darkness of death. Christ exhibited an astonish- 
ing instance of his grace in conferring this honour on such 
persons, so that they began, all at once, to be sons of God; 
and the greatness of this privilege is justly extolled by the 
Evangelist, as also by Paul, when he ascribes it to God, 
who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, 
(Eph. ii. 4.) But if any person shall prefer to take the word 
power in its ordinary acceptation, still the Evangelist does not 
mean by it any intermediate faculty, or one which does not 
include the full and complete effect ; but, on the contrary, 
means that Christ gave to the unclean and the uncircum- 
VOL. I. C 


cised what appeared to be impossible ; for an incredible 
change took place when out of stones Christ raised up children 
to God, (Matth. iii. 9.) The potver, therefore, is ih&t fitness 
(/xavorjjg) which Paul mentions, when he gives thanks to God, 
who hath made us fit (or meet) to be partakers of the inherit- 
ance of the saints, (Col. i. 12.) 

Who believe in his name. He expresses briefly the manner 
of receiving Christ, that is, believing in him. Having been 
ingrafted into Christ by faith, we obtain the right of adop- 
tion, so as to be the sons of God. And, indeed, as he is the 
only-begotten Son of God, it is only so far as we are mem- 
bers of him that this honour at all belongs to us. Here again 
the notion of the Papists about the word power is refuted. 1 
The Evangelist declares that this power is given to those who 
already believe. Now it is certain that such persons are in 
reality the sons of God. They detract too much from the 
value of faith who say that, by believing, a man obtains nothing 
more than that he may become a son of God, if he chooses ; 
for instead of a present effect they put a power which is held 
in uncertainty and suspense. 

The contradiction appears still more glaring from what 
immediately follows. The Evangelist says that those who 
believe are already born of God. It is not, therefore, a mere 
liberty of choice that is offered, since they obtain the privilege 
itself that is in question. Although the Hebrew word Q£? 
(Name) is sometimes used to denote power, yet here it 
denotes a relation to the doctrine of the Gospel ; for when 
Christ is preached to us, then it is that we believe in him. 
I speak of the ordinary method by which the Lord leads us 
to faith ; and this ought to be carefully observed, for there 
are many who foolishly contrive for themselves a confused 
faith, without any understanding of doctrine, as nothing is 
more common among the Papists than the w^ord believe, 
though there is not among them any knowledge of Christ 

1 " Et par ceci derechef est refutee l'iinagination des Papistes de 
laquelle j'ai parle, a scavoir que Dieu donne aux homines une possibility 
seulement d'estre faits enfans siens;" — "and here again is refuted the 
notion of the Papists which I spoke of, namely, that God gives to men a 
bare possibility of becoming his children." 


from hearing the Gospel. Christ, therefore, offers himself to 
us by the Gospel, and we receive him by faith. 

13. Who were born not of blood} Some think that an 
indirect reference is here made to the preposterous confidence 
of the Jews, and I willingly adopt that opinion. They had 
continually in their mouth the nobleness of their lineage, as 
if, because they were descended from a holy stock, they were 
naturally holy. And justly might they have gloried in their 
descent from Abraham, if they had been lawful sons, and not 
bastards ; but the glorying of faith ascribes nothing whatever 
to carnal generation, but acknowledges its obligation to the 
grace of God alone for all that is good. John, therefore, says, 
that those among the formerly unclean Gentiles who believe 
in Christ are not born the sons of God from the womb, but 
are renewed by God, that they may begin to be his sons. 
The reason why he uses the word blood in the plural number 
appears to have been, that he might express more fully a long 
succession of lineage ; for this was a part of the boasting 
among the Jews, that they could trace their descent, by an 
uninterrupted line, upwards to the patriarchs. 

The will of the flesh and the icill of man appear to me to 
mean the same thing ; for I see no reason why flesh should 
be supposed to signify woman, as Augustine and many 
others explain it. On the contrary, the Evangelist repeats 
the same thing in a variety of words, in order to explain it 
more fully, and impress it more deeply on the minds of men. 
Though he refers directly to the Jews, who gloried in the 
flesh, yet from this passage a general doctrine may be ob- 
tained : that our being reckoned the sons of God does not 
belong to our nature, and does not proceed from us, but 
because God begat us willingly, (James i. 18,) that is, from 
undeserved love. Hence it follows, first, that faith does not 
proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regenera- 
tion; for the Evangelist affirms that no man can believe, 

1 Here our Author, either from choice or from inadvertency, has 
adopted the phrase of blood, instead of what he followed in his version of 
the Text, (see page 35,) of Hoods — the literal, though not idiomatic, render- 
ing of *| xi pur cov, which is itself of rare occurrence, but not without 
classical authoritv. — Ed. 


unless he be begotten of God ; and therefore faith is a 
heavenly gift. It follows, secondly, that faith is not bare or 
cold knowledge, since no man can believe who has not been 
renewed by the Spirit of God. 

It may be thought that the Evangelist reverses the natural 
order by making regeneration to precede faith, whereas, on 
the contrary, it is an effect of faith, and therefore ought to 
be placed later. I reply, that both statements perfectly 
agree ; because by faith we receive the incorruptible seed, 
(1 Pet. i. 23,) by which we are born again to a new and divine 
life. And yet faith itself is a work of the Holy Spirit, who 
dwells in none but the children of God. So then, in various 
respects, faith is a part of our regeneration, and an entrance 
into the kingdom of God, that he may reckon us among his 
children. The illumination of our minds by the Holy Spirit 
belongs to our renewal, and thus faith flows from regenera- 
tion as from its source ; but since it is by the same faith that 
we receive Christ, who sanctifies us by his Spirit, on that 
account it is said to be the beginning of our adoption. 

Another solution, still more plain and easy, may be offered : 
for when the Lord breathes faith into us, he regenerates us by 
some method that is hidden and unknown to us ; but after 
we have received faith, we perceive, by a lively feeling of 
conscience, not only the grace of adoption, but also newness 
of life and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. For since faith, 
as we have said, receives Christ, it puts us in possession, so 
to speak, of all his blessings. Thus so far as respects our 
sense, it is only after having believed — that we begin to be the 
sons of God. But if the inheritance of eternal life is the 
fruit of adoption, we see how the Evangelist ascribes the 
Avhole of our salvation to the grace of Christ alone ; and, 
indeed, how closely soever men examine themselves, they 
will find nothing that is worthy of the children of God. 
except what Christ has bestowed on them. 

14. And the Speech was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we 
beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,) full of 
grace and truth. 

14. And the Speech was madejksh. The Evangelist shows 


what was that coining of Christ which he had mentioned ; 
namely, that having been clothed with our flesh, he showed 
himself openly to the world. Although the Evangelist touches 
briefly the unutterable mystery, that the Son of God was 
clothed with human nature, yet this brevity is wonderfully 
perspicuous. Here some madmen amuse themselves with 
foolish and trivial subtleties of this sort : that the Speech is 
said to have been made flesh, because God sent his Son into 
the world, according to the conception which he had formed 
in his mind ; as if the Speech were I know not what shadowy 
image. But we have demonstrated that that word denotes 
a real hypostasis, or subsistence, in the essence of God. 

The word Flesh expresses the meaning of the Evangelist 
more forcibly than if he had said that he was made man. He 
intended to show to what a mean and despicable condition 
the Son of God, on our account, descended from the height 
of his heavenly glory. When Scripture speaks of man con- 
temptuously, it calls him flesh. Now, though there be so wide 
a distance between the spiritual glory of the Speech of God 
and the abominable filth of our flesh, yet the Son of God 
stooped so low as to take upon himself that flesh, subject to 
so many miseries. The word flesh is not taken here for 
corrupt nature, (as it is often used by Paul,) but for mortal 
man ; though it marks disdainfully his frail and perishing 
nature, as in these and similar passages : for he remembered 
that they were flesh, (Ps. lxxviii. 39 ;) all flesh is grass, 
(Isa. xl. 6.) We must at the same time observe, however, 
that this is a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the 
whole ; for the lower part includes the whole man. 1 It was 
therefore highly foolish in Apollinaris to imagine that Christ 
was merely clothed with a human body without a soul ; for 
it may easily be proved from innumerable passages, that he 
had a soul as well as a body ; and when Scripture calls men 
flesh, it does not therefore deprive them of a soul. 

The plain meaning therefore is, that the Speech begotten 
by God before all ages, and who always dwelt with the 

1 u Car sous la chair et la partie inferieure tout l'hommc est complins j" 
— '"for under the flesh, and the lower part, the whole man is included." 


Father, was made man. On this article of faith there are two 
things chiefly to be observed. The first is, that two natures 
were so united in one Person in Christ, that one and the same 
Christ is true God and true man. The second is, that the 
unity of person does not hinder the two natures from remain- 
ing distinct, so that his Divinity retains all that is peculiar to 
itself, and his humanity holds separately whatever belongs to 
it. And, therefore, as Satan has made a variety of foolish 
attempts to overturn sound doctrine by heretics, he has al- 
ways brought forward one or another of these two errors ; 
either that he was the Son of God and the Son of man in so 
confused a manner, that neither his Divinity remained entire, 
nor did he wear the true nature of man ; or that he was 
clothed with, flesh, so as to be as it were double, and to have 
two separate persons. Thus Nestorius expressly acknow- 
ledged both natures, but imagined two Christs, one who was 
God, and another who was man. Eutyches, on the other 
hand, while he acknowledged that the one Christ is the Son of 
God and the Son of man, left him neither of the two natures, 
but imagined that they were mingled together. And in the 
present day, Servetus and the Anabaptists invent a Christ 
who is confusedly compounded of two natures, as if he were 
a Divine man. In words, indeed, he acknowledges that Christ 
is God ; but if you admit his raving imaginations, the Divi- 
nity is at one time changed into human nature, and at another 
time, the nature of man is swallowed up by the Divinity. 

The Evangelist says what is well adapted to refute both 
of these blasphemies. When he tells us that the Speech teas 
made flesh, we clearly infer from this the unity of his Person ; 
for it is impossible that he who is now a man could be any 
other than he who was always the true God, since it is said 
that that God was made man. On the other hand, since he 
distinctly gives to the man Christ the name of the Speech, it 
follows that Christ, when he became man, did not cease to 
be what he formerly was, and that no change took place in 
that eternal essence of God which was clothed with flesh. In 
short, the Son of God began to be man in such a manner 
that he still continues to be that eternal Speech who had no 
beginning of time. 


And dwelt Those who explain that the Jiesh served, as it 
were, for an abode to Christ, do not perceive the meaning of 
the Evangelist ; for he does not ascribe to Christ a perma- 
nent residence amongst us, but says that he remained in it, as 
a guest, for a short time. For the word which he employs 
(stxrivum) is taken from tabernacles. 1 He means nothing else 
than that Christ discharged on the earth the office which had 
been appointed to him ; or, that he did not merely appear for 
a single moment, but that he conversed among men until he 
completed the course of his office. 

Among us. It is doubtful whether he speaks of men in 
general, or only of himself and the rest of the disciples who 
were eye-witnesses of what he says. For my own part, I 
approve more highly of the second view, for the Evangelist 
immediately adds : 

And ive beheld his glory. For though all men might have 
beheld the glory of Christ, yet it was unknown to the greater 
part on account of their blindness. It was only a few, whose 
eyes the Holy Spirit opened, that saw this manifestation of 
glory. In a word, Christ was known to be man in such a 
manner that he exhibited in his Person something far more 
noble and excellent. Hence it follows that the majesty of 
God was not annihilated, though it was surrounded by Jlesh; 
it was indeed concealed under the low condition of the Jlesh, 
but so as to cause its splendour to be seen. 

As of the only-begotten of the Father. The word as does not, 
in this passage, denote an inappropriate comparison, but rather 
expresses true and hearty approbation ; as when Paul says, 
Walk as children of light, he bids us actually demonstrate by 
our works that we are the children of light. The Evangelist 
therefore means, that in Christ was beheld a glory which was 
worthy of the Son of God, and which was a sure proof of 
his Divinity. He calls him the Only-begotten, because he is the 
only Son of God by nature ; as if he would place him above 
men and angels, and would claim for him alone what belongs 
to no creature. 

1 "Est deduit d'un mot qui signifie Tabernacles, e'est a dire, fcentes el 
pavilions ;" — " is derived from a word which signifies Tabernacles, that 
is, tents and pavilions." 


Full of grace. There were, indeed, other things in which 
the majesty of Christ appeared, but the Evangelist selected 
this instance in preference to others, in order to train us to 
the speculative rather than the practical knowledge of it ; 
and this ought to be carefully observed. Certainly when 
Christ walked with dry feet upon the waters, (Matth. xiv. 26; 
Mark vi. 48 ; John vi. 19,) when he cast out devils, and 
when he displayed his power in other miracles, he might be 
known to be the only-begotten Son of God ; but the Evan- 
gelist brings forward a part of the approbation, from which 
faith obtains delightful advantage, because Christ demon- 
strated that he actually is an inexhaustible fountain of grace 
and truth. Stephen, too, is said to have been full of grace, 1 
but in a different sense ; for the fulness of grace in Christ is 
the fountain from which all of us must draw, as we shall have 
occasion shortly afterwards to explain more fully. 

Grace and truth. This might be taken, by a figure of 
speech, for true grace, or the latter term might be explana- 
tory, thus : that he was full of grace, which is truth or per- 
fection ; but as we shall find that he immediately afterwards 
repeats the same mode of expression, I think that the meaning 
is the same in both passages. This grace and truth he after- 
wards contrasts with the Law ; and therefore I interpret it as 
simply meaning, that the apostles acknowledged Christ to be 
the Son of God, because he had in himself the fulfilment of 
all things which belong to the spiritual kingdom of God; 
and, in short, that in all things he showed himself to be the 
Redeemer and Messiah ; which is the most striking mark by 
which he ought to be distinguished from all others. 

15. John testifieth 2 of himself, and cried, saying, This is he of whom I 
xpoke ; who, coming after me, was preferred to me, for he was more 
excellent than I. 3 16. Andout of his fulness have weall received, and grace 

1 This must have been a slip of memory on the part of our Author ; for 
the phrases applied to Stephen are different, though parallel. He is 
called a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, (Acts vi. 5 ;) full 
of faith and power, (Acts vi. 8 ;) and full of the Holy Ghost, (Acts vii. 
55.)— Ed. 

2 "Jean rend (ou, a rendu ^tesmoignagedeluy;" — " John gives (or,gave) 
testimony of him." 

3 u Plus excellent que moy, ou, premier que may;' — " more excellent 
than I. or. before me.'' 


Cor grace. 17. For the law was given by Moses ; grace and truth came 
by Jesus Christ. 18. No man hath ever seen God : the only-begotten Son 
himself, who is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared him. 

15. John testifieth. He now relates what was the preachiug 
of John. By using the verb testifieth (pagrvgi?) in the present 
tense, 1 he denotes a continued act, and certainly this doctrine 
must be continually in force, as if the voice of John were 
continually resounding in the ears of men. In the same 
manner he afterwards uses the word cry, to intimate that 
the doctrine of John was in no degree obscure or ambiguous, 
and that he did not mutter among a few men, 2 but openly, 
and with a loud voice, preached Christ. The first sentence 
is intended to convey the statement, that he was sent for the 
sake of Christ, and therefore that it would have been un- 
reasonable that he should be exalted, while Christ was lying 

This is he of whom I spoke. By these words he means that 
his intention was, from the beginning, to make Christ known, 
and that this was the design of his public discourses ; as, indeed, 
there was no other way in which he could discharge his office 
as ambassador than by calling his disciples to Christ. 

Who, coming after me. Though John the Baptist was older 
than Christ by a few months, yet he does not now speak of 
age ; but as he had discharged the office of prophet for a 
short period before Christ appeared in public, so he makes 
himself the predecessor with respect to time. With respect, 
therefore, to public manifestation, Christ came after John the 
Baptist. The words which follow might be literally ren- 
dered, lie teas made before me, for he was before me ; but the 
meaning is, that Christ was justly preferred to John, because 
he was more excellent. He therefore surrenders his office to 
Christ, and — as the proverb runs — "delivers to him the torch," 
or gives way to him as his successor. But as he arose later 
in the order of time, John reminds his hearers that this is no 

1 " En usant du verbe du temps present, a scavoir, Rend tesmoignage, et 
non pas, Rendoit ;" — " by using the verb in the present tense, giveth tes- 
timony, and not gave testimony." 

2 " Qu'il n'a point parle entre ses dents, et communique la chose conime 
en secret a pen de gena ;" — " that he did not speak between his teeth, and 
communicate the matter, as it were secretly, to a few persons." 


reason why he should not be -preferred to himself, as his rank 
deserved. Thus, all who are superior to others, either in the 
gifts of God or in any degree of honour, must remain in their 
own rank, so as to be placed below Christ. 

16. And out of his fulness. He begins now to preach about 
the office of Christ, that it contains within itself an abundance 
of all blessings, so that no part of salvation must be sought 
anywhere else. True, indeed, the fountain of life, righteous- 
ness, virtue, and wisdom, is with God, but to us it is a hidden 
and inaccessible fountain. But an abundance of those things 
is exhibited to us in Christ, that we may be permitted to 
have recourse to him ; for he is ready to flow to us, provided 
that we open up a channel by faith. He declares in general, 
that out of Christ we ought not to seek any thing good, 
though this sentence consists of several clauses. First, he 
shows that we are all utterly destitute and empty of spiritual 
blessings; for the abundance which exists in Christ is intended 
to supply our deficiency, to relieve our poverty, to satisfy our 
hunger and thirst. Secondly, he warns us that, as soon as 
we have departed from Christ, it is in vain for us to seek a 
single drop of happiness, because God hath determined that 
whatever is good shall reside in him alone. Accordingly, we 
shall find angels and men to be dry, heaven to be empty, the 
earth to be unproductive, and, in short, all things to be of no 
value, if we wish to be partakers of the gifts of God in any 
other way than through Christ. Thirdly, he assures us that 
we shall have no reason to fear the want of any thing, pro- 
vided that we draw from the fulness of Christ, which is in 
every respect so complete, that we shall experience it to be 
a truly inexhaustible fountain ; and John classes himself with 
the rest, not for the sake of modesty, but to make it more 
evident that no man whatever is excepted. 

It is indeed uncertain whether he speaks generally of the 
whole human race, or means only those who, subsequently to the 
manifestation of Christ in the flesh, have been made more fully 
partakers of his blessings. All the godly, no doubt, who lived 
under the law, drew out of the same fulness ; but as John 
immediately afterwards distinguishes between different periods, 


it is more probable that here he especially recommends that 
rich abundance of blessings which Christ displayed at his 
coming. For we know that under the Law the gifts of God 
were more sparingly tasted, but that when Christ was mani- 
fested in flesh, they were poured out, as it were, with a full 
hand, even to satiety. Not that any of us has obtained a 
greater abundance of the grace of the Spirit than Abraham 
did, but I speak of God's ordinary dispensation, and of the 
way and manner of dispensing. John the Baptist, that he 
may the more freely invite his disciples to come to Christ, 
declares that in him is laid up for all an abundance of the bless- 
ings of which they are destitute. And yet if any one choose 
to extend the meaning farther, there will be no absurdity 
in doing so ; or rather, it will agree well with the strain 
of the discourse, that all the fathers, from the beginning of 
the world, drew from Christ all the gifts which they possessed; 
for though the laiv ivas given by Moses, yet they did not 
obtain grace by it. But I have already stated what appears 
to me to be the preferable view; namely, that John here 
compares us with the fathers, so as to magnify, by means of 
that comparison, what has been given to us. 

And grace for grace. In what manner Augustine explains 
this passage is well known : that all the blessings which God 
bestows upon us from time to time, and at length life ever- 
lasting, are not granted as the reward due to our merits, but that 
it proceeds from pure liberality that God thus rewards former 
grace, and crowns his own gifts in us. This is piously and 
judiciously said, but has nothing to do with the present pass- 
age. The meaning would be more simple if you were to take the 
wov&for(avri) comparatively, as meaning, that whatever graces 
God bestows on us, proceed equally from the same source. 
It might also be taken as pointing out the final cause, that 
we now receive grace, that God may one day fulfil the work 
of our salvation, which will be the fulfilment of grace. For 
my own part, I agree with the opinion of those who say that 
we are watered with the graces which were poured out on 
Christ ; for what we receive from Christ he does not bestow 
upon us as being God, but the Father communicated to him 
what would flow to us as through a channel. This is the 


anointing with which he was anointed, that he might anoint 
us all along with him. Hence, too, he is called Christ, 
(the Anointed,) and we are called Christians. 

17. For the Law was given by Moses. This is an anticipa- 
tion, by which he meets an objection that was likely to arise ; 
for so highly was Moses esteemed by the Jews that they could 
hardly receive anything that differed from him. The Evan- 
gelist therefore shows how far inferior the ministry of Moses 
was to the power of Christ. At the same time, this comparison 
sheds no small lustre on the power of Christ ; for while the 
utmost possible deference was rendered to Moses by the Jews, 
the Evangelist reminds them that what he brought was 
exceedingly small, when compared with the grace of Christ. 
It would otherwise have been a great hinderance, that they 
expected to receive from the Laic what we can only obtain 
through Christ. 

But Ave must attend to the antithesis, when he contrasts 
the law with grace and truth ; for his meaning is, that the law 
wanted both of them. 1 The word Truth denotes, in my 
opinion, a fixed and permanent state of things. By the word 
Grace I understand the spiritual fulfilment of those things, 
the bare letter of which was contained in the Law. And 
those two words may be supposed to refer to the same thing, 
by a well-known figure of speech, (hypallage ;) as if he had 
said, that grace, in which the truth of the Law consists, was 
at length exhibited in Christ. But as the meaning will be in 
no degree affected, it is of no importance whether you view 
them as united or as distinguished. This at least is certain, 
that the Evangelist means, that in the Law there was nothing 
more than a shadowy image of spiritual blessings, but that 
they are actually found in Christ; whence it follows, that if 
you separate the Law from Christ, there remains nothing in it 
but empty figures. For this reason Paul says that the 
shadotvs were in the laic, but the body is in Christ, (Col. ii. 17.) 
And yet it must not be supposed that anything was exhibited 

1 " Que la Loy n'a eu ne L'un ne I'autre ;" — " that the Law had ueithei 

the one nor the other." 


by the Law in a manner fitted to deceive ; for Christ is the 
soul which gives life to that which would otherwise have 
been dead under the law. But here a totally different question 
meets us, namely, what the law could do by itself and without 
Christ ; and the Evangelist maintains that nothing perma- 
nently valuable is found in it until we come to Christ. This 
truth consists in our obtaining through Christ that grace 
which the law could not at all bestow ; and therefore I take 
the word grace in a general sense, as denoting both the un- 
conditional forgiveness of sins, and the renewal of the heart. 
For while the Evangelist points out briefly the distinction 
between the Old and New Testaments, 1 (which is more fully 
described in Jer. xxxi. 31,) he includes in this word all that 
relates to spiritual righteousness. Now this righteousness 
consists of two parts ; first, that God is reconciled to us by 
free grace, in not imputing to us our sins ; and, secondly, that 
he has engraven his law in our hearts, and, by his Spirit, 
renews men within to obedience to it; from which it is evident 
that the Law is incorrectly and falsely expounded, if there are 
any whose attention it fixes on itself, or whom it hinders from 
coming to Christ. 

18. No man hath ever seen God. Most appropriately is 
this added to confirm the preceding statement ; for the know- 
ledge of God is the door by which we enter into the enjoy- 
ment of all blessings ; and as it is by Christ alone that God 
makes himself known to us, hence too it follows that we ought 
to seek all things from Christ. This order of doctrine ought 
to be carefully observed. No remark appears to be more 
common than this, that each of us receives, according to the 
measure of his faith, what God offers to us ; but there are few 
who think that we must bring the vessel of faith and of the 
knowledge of God with which we draw. 

When he says that no man hath seen God, we must not 
understand him to refer to the outward perception of the 
bodily eye ; for he means generally, that as God dieells in 

1 The points of agreement and of difference between the Old and 
New Testaments are copiously illustrated by our Author in the Institutes 
of the. Christian Religion, Book IT. chap. ,\. xi. — Ed. 


inaccessible light, (1 Tim. vi. 16,) he cannot be known but 
in Christ, who is his lively image. This passage is usually 
explained thus : that as the naked majesty of God is con- 
cealed within himself, he never could be comprehended, ex- 
cept so far as he revealed himself in Christ ; and therefore 
that it was only in Christ that God was formerly known to 
the fathers. But I rather think that the Evangelist here 
abides by the comparison already stated, namely, how much 
better our condition is than that of the fathers, because God, 
who was formerly concealed in his secret glory, may now be 
said to have rendered himself visible ; for certainly when 
Christ is called the lively image of God, (Heb. i. 3,) this 
refers to the peculiar privilege of the New Testament. In 
like manner, the Evangelist describes, in this passage, some- 
thing new and uncommon, when he says that the only-begot- 
ten Son, who teas in the bosom of the Father, hath made known 
to us what was formerly concealed. He therefore magnifies 
the manifestation of God, which has been brought to us by 
the gospel, in which he distinguishes us from the fathers, and 
shows that we are superior to them ; as also Paul explains 
more fully in the Third and Fourth chapters of the Second 
Epistle to the Corinthians. For he maintains that there is 
now no longer any vail, such as existed under the Law, but 
that God is openly beheld in the face of Christ. 

If it be thought unreasonable that the fathers are deprived 
of the knowledge of God, who have the prophets daily going 
before them and holding out the torch, I reply, that what is 
ascribed to us is not simply or absolutely denied to them, but 
that a comparison is made between the less and the greater, 
as we say ; because they had nothing more than little sparks 
of the true light, the full brightness of which daily shines 
around us. If it be objected, that at that time also God was 
seen face to face, (Gen. xxxii. 30; Deut. xxxiv. 10,) I main- 
tain that that sight is not at all to be compared with ours ; 
but as God was accustomed at that time to exhibit himself 
obscurely, and, as it were, from a distance, those to whom he 
was more clearly revealed say that they saw him face to face. 
They say so with reference to their own time ; but they did 
not see God in any other way than wrapped up in many folds 


of figures and ceremonies. 1 That vision which Moses ob- 
tained on the mountain was remarkable and more excellent 
than almost all the rest ; and yet God expressly declares, 
thou shalt not be able to see my face, only thou shalt see my back, 
(Exod. xxxiii. 23 ;) by which metaphor he shows that the time 
for a full and clear revelation had not yet come. It must also 
be observed that, when the fathers wished to behold God, 
they always turned their eyes towards Christ. I do not only 
mean that they beheld God in his eternal Speech, but also 
that they attended, with their whole mind and with their 
whole heart, to the promised manifestation of Christ. For 
this reason we shall find that Christ afterwards said, Abraham 
saw my day, (John viii. 56 ;) and that which is subordinate 
is not contradictory. It is therefore a fixed principle, that 
God, who was formerly invisible, hath now made himself 
visible in Christ. 

When he says that the Son was in the bosom of the Father, 
the metaphor is borrowed from men, who are said to receive 
into their bosom those to whom they communicate all their 
secrets. The breast is the seat of counsel. He therefore 
shows that the Son was acquainted with the most hidden 
secrets of his Father, in order to inform us that we have the 
breast of God, as it were, laid open to us in the Gospel. 

19. And this is 2 the testimony of John, when the Jews sent Priests and 
Levites to Jerusalem, to ask him, Who art thou ? 20. And he confessed, 
and denied not ; he confessed, I say, I am not the Christ. 21. They 
then asked him, What art thou then ? Art thou Elijah ? And he said, I am 
not. Art thou a Prophet? 3 And he answered, No. 22. They said 
therefore to him, Who art thou, that we may give an answer to those who 
sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? 23. He saith, I am the voice of 
him who crieth in the wilderness, 4 Prepare the way of the Lord, as said the 
prophet Isaiah. 

19. And this is the testimony. Hitherto the Evangelist has 
related the preaching of John about Christ ; he now comes 
down to a more illustrious testimony, which was delivered to 

1 " Enveloppemens de figures et ceremonies." 

2 "C'est ici aussi (ou, e'est done ci) le tesmoignage ;" — "this is also 
{or, this is therefore) the testimony." 

3 "Es-tu Prophete, om, le Prophete?"—" Art thou a Prophet, or, the 

4 " De celuy qui crie au desert." 


the ambassadors of the Priests, that they might convey it to 
Jerusalem. He says, therefore, that John openly confessed for 
what purpose he was sent by God. The first inquiry here is, for 
what purpose the Priests put questions to him. It is generally 
believed that, out of hatred to Christ, they gave to John an 
honour which did not belong to him ; but this could not be 
the reason, for Christ was not yet known to them. Others 
say that they were better pleased with John, because he was 
of the lineage and order of the priesthood ; but neither do I 
think that this is probable ; for since they expected from 
Christ all prosperity, why did they voluntarily contrive a false 
Christ? I think, therefore, that there was another reason 
that induced them. It was now a long time since they had 
the Prophets ; John came suddenly and contrary to expecta- 
tion ; and the minds of all were aroused to expect the Messiah. 
Besides, all entertained the belief that the coming of the 
Messiah was at hand. 

That they may not appear to be careless about their duty, 
if they neglect or disguise a matter of so great importance, 
they ask John, Who art thou ? At first, therefore, they did 
not act from malice, but, on the contrary, actuated by the 
desire of redemption, they wish to know if John be the Christ, 
because he begins to change the order which had been cus- 
tomary in the Church. And yet I do not deny that ambition, 
and a wish to retain their authority, had some influence over 
them ; but nothing certainly was farther from their intention 
than to transfer the honour of Christ to another. Nor is 
their conduct in this matter inconsistent with the office which 
they sustain ; for since they held the government of the 
Church of God, it was their duty to take care that no one 
rashly obtruded himself, that no founder of a new sect should 
arise, that the unity of faith should not be broken in the 
Church, and that none should introduce new and foreign 
ceremonies. It is evident, therefore, that a report about 
John was widely spread and aroused the minds of all ; and 
this was arranged by the wonderful Providence of God, that 
this testimony might be more strikingly complete. 

20. And he confessed, and denied not. That is, he confessed 


openly, and without any ambiguity or hypocrisy. The word 
confess, in the first instance, means generally, that he stated 
the fact as it really was. In the second instance, it is re- 
peated in order to express the form of the confession. He 
replied expressly, that he was not the Christ. 

21. Art thou Elijah'? Why do they name Elijah rather 
than Moses ? It was because they learned from the predic- 
tion of Malachi, (iv. 2, 5,) that when the Messiah, the Sun of 
Righteousness, should arise, Elijah would be the morning star 
to announce his approach. But the question is founded on a 
false opinion which they had long held ; for, holding the 
opinion that the soul of a man departs out of one body into 
another, when the Prophet Malachi announced that Elijah 
would be sent, they imagined that the same Elijah, who lived 
under the reign of king Ahab, (I Kings xvii. 1,) was to come. 
It is therefore a just and true reply which John makes, that 
he is not Elijah ; for he speaks according to the opinion which 
they attached to the words ; but Christ, giving the true inter- 
pretation of the Prophet, affirms that John is Elijah, (Matth. 
xi. 14 ; Mark ix. 13.) 

Art thou a Prophet? Erasmus gives an inaccurate explana- 
tion of these words by limiting them to Christ ; for the addi- 
tion of the article (6 crgopjjrjjg, the prophet) carries no emphasis in 
this passage ; and the messengers afterwards declare plainly 
enough, that they meant a different prophet from Christ ; for 
they sum up the whole by saying, (ver. 25,) if thou art neither 
the Christ, nor Elijah, nor a Prophet. Thus we see that they 
intended to point out different persons. Others think that 
they inquired if he was one of the ancient prophets; but 
neither do I approve of that exposition. Rather do they by 
this term point out the office of John, and ask if God had 
appointed him to be a prophet. When he replies, / am not, 
he does not for the sake of modesty tell a lie, but honestly 
and sincerely detaches himself from the company of the pro- 
phets. And yet this reply is not inconsistent with the 
honourable attestation which Christ gives him. Christ 
bestows on John the designation of prophet, and even adds 
that he is more than a prop/iet, (Matth. xi. 9 ;) but by these 
VOL. I. *> 


words he does nothing more than demand credit and authority 
for his doctrine, and at the same time describes, in lofty terms, 
the excellence of the office which had been conferred on him. 
But in this passage John has a different object in view, which 
is, to show that he has no special message, as was usually the 
case with the prophets, but that he was merely appointed to 
be the herald of Christ. 

This will be made still more clear by a comparison. All 
ambassadors — even those who are not sent on matters of great 
importance — obtain the name and authority of ambassadors, 
because they hold special commissions. Such were all the 
Prophets who, having been enjoined to deliver certain pre- 
dictions, discharged the prophetic office. But if some weighty 
matter come to be transacted, and if two ambassadors are 
sent, one of whom announces the speedy arrival of another 
who possesses full power to transact the whole matter, and if 
this latter has received injunctions to bring it to a conclusion, 
will not the former embassy be reckoned a part and appendage 
of the latter, which is the principal ? Such was the case with 
John the Baptist, to whom God had given no other injunc- 
tion than to prepare the Jews for listening to Christ, and 
becoming his disciples. 1 That this is the meaning, will still 
more fully appear from the context ; for we must investigate 
the opposite clause, which immediately follows. / am not a 
prophet, says he, but a voice crying in the wilderness. The dis- 
tinction lies in this, that the voice crying, that a way may be 
prepared for the Lord, is not a prophet, but merely a subor- 
dinate minister, so to speak ; and his doctrine is only a sort 
of preparation for listening to another Teacher. In this way 
John, though he is more excellent than all the prophets, still 
is not a prophet. 

23. Tlie voice of him ivho crieth. As he would have been 
chargeable with rashness in undertaking the office of teaching, 
if he had not received a commission, he shows what was the 
duty which he had to perform, and proves it by a quotation 

i " Sinon de preparer les Juifs a dormer audience a Christ, et estre ses 


from the Prophet Isaiah, (xl. 3.) Hence it follows that he 
does nothing but what God commanded him to do. Isaiah 
does not, indeed, speak there of John alone, but, promising 
the restoration of the Church, he predicts that there will yet 
be heard joyful voices, commanding to prepare the way for the 
Lord. Though he points out the coming of God, when he 
brought back the people from their captivity in Babylon, yet 
the true accomplishment was the manifestation of Christ in 
flesh. Among the heralds who announced that the Lord was 
at hand, John held the chief place. 

To enter into ingenious inquiries, as some have done, into 
the meaning of the word Voice, would be frivolous. John is 
called a Voice, because he was enjoined to cry. It is in a 
figurative sense, undoubtedly, that Isaiah gives the name 
wilderness to the miserable desolation of the Church, which 
seemed to preclude the return of the people ; as if he had 
said, that a passage would indeed be opened up for the 
captive people, but that the Lord would find a road through 
regions in which there was no road. But that visible wilder- 
ness, in which John preached, was a figure or image of the 
awful desolation which took away all hope of deliverance. If 
this comparison be considered, it will be easily seen that no 
torture has been given to the words of the prophet in this 
application of them; for God arranged everything in such a 
manner, as to place before the eyes of his people, who were 
overwhelmed with their calamities, a mirror of this prediction. 

24. Now those who were sent were of the Pharisees. 25- Therefore 
they asked him, and said to him, Why then dost thou baptize, if thou art 
not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor a Prophet? 26. John answered them., 
saying, I baptize with water ; but one standeth in the midst of you, whom 
you know not. 27. It is he who, coming after me, is preferred to me ; 
whose shoe-latchet I am not worthy to loose. 28. These things were 
done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 

24. Were of the Pharisees. He says that they were Pharisees, 
who at that time held the highest rank in the Church ; and he 
says so in order to inform us, that they Avere not some contemp- 
tible persons of the order of the Levites, but men clothed 
with authority. This is the reason why they raise a question 
about his baptism. Ordinary ministers would have been 


satisfied with any kind of answer ; but those men, because 
they cannot draw from John what they desired, accuse him 
of rashness for venturing to introduce anew religious observ- 

25. Why then dost thou baptize? By laying down those 
three degrees, they appear to form a very conclusive argu- 
ment : if thou art not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor a prophet ; 
for it does not belong to every man to institute the practice 
of baptism. The Messiah was to be one who possessed all 
authority. Of Elijah who was to come, they had formed 
this opinion, that he would commence the restoration both of 
the royal authority and of the Church. The prophets of 
God, they readily grant, have a right to discharge the office 
committed to them. They conclude, therefore, that for John 
to baptize is an unlawful novelty, since he has received from 
God no public station. But they are wrong in not acknow- 
ledging him to be that Elijah who is mentioned by Malachi, 
(iv. 5 ;) though he denies that he is that Elijah of whom 
they foolishly dreamed. 

26. I baptize tvith water. This ought to have been abun- 
dantly sufficient for the correction of their mistake, but a 
reproof otherwise clear is of no advantage to the deaf ; for, 
when he sends them to Christ, and declares that Christ is 
present, this is a clear proof not only that he was divinely 
appointed to be a minister of Christ, but that he is the true 
Elijah, who is sent to testify that the time is come 1 for the 
renovation of the Church. There is a contrast here which 
is not fully stated ; for the spiritual baptism of Christ is not 
expressly contrasted with the external baptism of John, but 
that latter clause about the baptism of the Spirit might easily 
be supplied, and shortly afterwards both are set down by the 

This answer may be reduced to two heads : first, that John 
claims nothing for himself but what he has a right to claim, 
because he has Christ for the Author of his baptism, in which 

1 " Que le temps estoit venu." 


consists the truth of the sign ; and, secondly, that he has 
nothing but the administration of the outward sign, while the 
whole power and efficacy is in the hands of Christ alone. 
Thus he defends his baptism, so far as its truth depends on 
anything else ; but, at the same time, by declaring that he 
has not the power of the Spirit, he exalts the dignity of Christ, 
that the eyes of men may be fixed on him alone. This is the 
highest and best regulated moderation, when a minister 
borrows from Christ whatever authority he claims for himself, 
in such a manner as to trace it to him, ascribing to him alone 
all that he possesses. 

It is a foolish mistake, however, into which some people 
have been led, of supposing that John's baptism was different 
from ours ; for John does not argue here about the advantage 
and usefulness of his baptism, but merely compares his own 
person with the person of Christ. In like manner, if we were 
inquiring, at the present day, what part belongs to us, and 
what belongs to Christ, in baptism, we must acknowledge 
that Christ alone performs what baptism figuratively repre- 
sents, and that Ave have nothing beyond the bare administra- 
tion of the sign. There is a twofold way of speaking in 
Scripture about the sacraments ; for sometimes it tells us that 
they are the laver of regeneration, (Titus iii. 5 ;) that by them 
our sins are washed away, (1 Peter iii. 21 ;) that we are in- 
grafted into the body of Christ, that our old man is crucified, and 
that we rise again to newness of life, (Rom. vi. 4, 5, 6 ;) and, 
in those cases, Scripture joins the power of Christ with the 
ministry of man ; as, indeed, man is nothing else than the hand 
of Christ. Such modes of expression show, not what man 
can of himself accomplish, but what Christ performs by man, 
and by the sign, as his instruments. But as there is a strong 
tendency to fall into superstition, and as men, through the 
pride which is natural to them, take from God the honour 
due to him, and basely appropriate it to themselves; so 
Scripture, in order to restrain this blasphemous arrogance, 
sometimes distinguishes ministers from Christ, as in this 
passage, that we may learn that ministers are nothing and 
can do nothing. 

One standeth in the midst of you. He indirectly charges 


them with stupidity, in not knowing Christ, to whom their 
minds ought to have been earnestly directed; and he always 
insists earnestly on this point, that nothing can be known 
about his ministry, until men have come to him who is the 
Author of it. When he says that Christ standeth in the 
midst of them, it is that he may excite their desire and their 
exertion to know him. The amount of what he says is, that 
he wishes to place himself as low as possible, lest any degree 
of honour improperly bestowed on him might obscure the 
excellence of Christ. It is probable that he had these sen- 
tences frequently in his mouth, when he saw himself immo- 
derately extolled by the perverse opinions of men. 

27. Who coming after me. Here he says two things ; first, 
that Christ was behind him in the order of time ; but, secondly, 
that he was far before him in rank and dignity, because the 
Father preferred him to all. Soon after he will add a third 
statement, that Christ was preferred to all others, because he 
is in reality more exalted than all others. 

28. These things were done in Bethabara. The place is 
mentioned, not only to authenticate the narrative, but also to 
inform us that this answer was given amidst a numerous 
assembly of people ; for there were many who flocked to 
John's baptism, and this was his ordinary place for baptizing. 
It is likewise supposed by some to be a passage across Jordan, 
and, from this circumstance, they derive the name, for they 
interpret it the house of passage ; unless, perhaps, some may 
prefer the opinion of those who refer to the memorable 
passage of the people, (Jos. iii. 13,) when God opened up a 
way for them in the midst of the w T aters, under the direction 
of Joshua. Others say that it ought rather to be read Beth- 
araba. Instead of Bethabara, some have inserted here the name 
Bethany, but this is a mistake; for we shall afterwards see 
how near Bethany was to Jerusalem. The situation of Beth- 
abara, as laid down by those who have described the country, 
agrees best with the words of the Evangelist ; though I have 
no wish to dispute about the pronunciation of the word. 


29. The next day, John sceth Jesus coming to him, and saith, Behold 
the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world! 30. This is 
he of whom I said, Alter me COmeth a man who was preferred to me, be- 
cause lie was more excellent than I. 31. And I knew him not ; but in 
order thai lie might be manifested to Israel, therefore I came baptizing 
with water. 32. And John testified, saying, I saw the Spirit descending 
like a dove from heaven, and it remained upon him. 33. And I knew him 
not ; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom 
thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, it is he who 
baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34. I saw therefore, and testified, that he 
is the Son of God. 

29. The next clay. There can be no doubt that John had 
already spoken about the manifestation of the Messiah ; but 
when Christ began to appear, he wished that his announce- 
ment of him should quickly become known, and the time was 
now at hand when Christ would put an end to John's 
ministry, as, when the sun is risen, the dawn suddenly dis- 
appears. After having testified to the priests who were 
sent to him, that he from whom they ought to seek the truth 
and power of baptism was already present, and was convers- 
ing in the midst of the people, the next day he pointed him 
out to the view of all. For these two acts, following each 
other in close succession, must have powerfully affected their 
minds. This too is the reason why Christ appeared in the 
presence of John. 

Behold the Lamb of God. The principal office of Christ is 
briefly but clearly stated ; that he takes away the sins of the 
world by the sacrifice of his death, and reconciles men to God. 
There are other favours, indeed, which Christ bestows upon 
us, but this is the chief favour, and the rest depend on it ; 
that, by appeasing the wrath of God, he makes us to be 
reckoned holy and righteous. For from this source flow all 
the streams of blessings, that, by not imputing our sins, he 
receives us into favour. Accordingly, John, in order to 
conduct us to Christ, commences with the gratuitous forgive- 
ness of sins which we obtain through him. 

By the word Lamb he alludes to the ancient sacrifices of 
the Law. lie had to do with Jews who, having been accus- 
tomed to sacrifices, could not be instructed about atonement 
for sins in any other way than by holding out to them a 
sacrifice. As there were various kinds of them, he makes 


one, by a figure of speech, to stand for the whole ; and it is 
probable that John alluded to the paschal lamb. It must be 
observed, in general, that John employed this mode of ex- 
pression, which was better adapted to instruct the Jews, and 
possessed greater force ; as in our own day, in consequence 
of baptism being generally practised, we understand better 
what is meant by obtaining forgiveness of sins through the 
blood of Christ, when we are told that we are washed and 
cleansed by it from our pollutions. At the same time, as the 
Jews commonly held superstitious notions about sacrifices, he 
corrects this fault in passing, by reminding them of the object 
to which all the sacrifices were directed. It was a very wicked 
abuse of the institution of sacrifice, that they had their con- 
fidence fixed on the outward signs ; and therefore John, 
holding out Christ, testifies that he is the Lamb of God ; by 
which he means that all the sacrifices, which the Jews were 
accustomed to offer under the Law, had no power whatever 
to atone for sins, but that they were only figures, the truth 
of which was manifested in Christ himself. 

Who taketh away the sin of the tcorld. He uses the word 
sin in the singular number, for any kind of iniquity ; as if he 
had said, that every kind of unrighteousness which alienates 
men from God is taken away by Christ. And when he says, 
the sin of tiie world, he extends this favour indiscrimin- 
ately to the whole human race ; that the Jews might not 
think that he had been sent to them alone. But hence we 
infer that the whole tcorld is involved in the same condemna- 
tion ; and that as all men without exception are guilty of 
unrighteousness before God, they need to be reconciled to 
him. John the Baptist, therefore, by speaking generally 
of the sin of the world, intended to impress upon us the con- 
viction of our own misery, and to exhort us to seek the remedy. 
Now our duty is, to embrace the benefit which is offered to 
all, that each of us may be convinced that there is nothing 
to hinder him from obtaining reconciliation in Christ, provided 
that he comes to him by the guidance of faith. 

Besides, he lays down but one method of taking away sins. 
We know that from the beginning of the Avorld, when their 
own consciences held them convinced, men laboured anxious! v 


to procure forgiveness. Hence the vast number of propi- 
tiatory offerings, by which they falsely imagined that they 
appeased God. I own, indeed, that all the spurious rites of 
a propitiatory nature drew their existence from a holy origin, 
which was, that God had appointed the sacrifices which 
directed men to Christ ; but yet every man contrived for 
himself his own method of appeasing God. But John leads 
us back to Christ alone, and informs us that there is no other 
way in which God is reconciled to us than through his 
agency, because he alone takes aicay sin. He therefore 
leaves no other refuge for sinners than to flee to Christ ; by 
which he overturns all satisfactions, and purifications, and 
redemptions, that are invented by men ; as, indeed, they are 
nothing else than base inventions framed by the subtlety of 
the devil. 

The verb a/geiv (to take away) may be explained in two 
ways ; either that Christ took upon himself the load which 
weighed us down, as it is said that he carried our sins on the 
tree, (1 Pet. ii. 24 ;) and Isaiah says that the chastisement of our 
peace was laid on him, (Isa. liii. 5 ;) or that he blots out sins. 
But as the latter statement depends on the former, I gladly 
embrace both ; namely, that Christ, by bearing our sins, 
takes them away. Although, therefore, sin continually dwells 
in us, yet there is none in the judgment of God, because 
when it has been annulled by the grace of Christ, it is not 
imputed to us. Nor do I dislike the remark of Chrysostom, 
that the verb in the present tense — o a'iguv, who takcth away — 
denotes a continued act ; for the satisfaction which Christ 
once made is always in full vigour. But he does not merely 
teach us that Christ takes aicay sin, but points out also the 
method, namely, that he hath reconciled the Father to us by 
means of his death ; for this is what he means by the word 
Lamb. Let us therefore learn that we become reconciled to 
God by the grace of Christ, if we go straight to his death, 
and when we believe that he who w r as nailed to the cross is 
the only propitiatory sacrifice, by which all our guilt is re- 

30. This is he of whom I said. He comprehends every 


thing in a few words, when he declares that Christ is the per- 
son who, he said, was to be preferred to him ; for hence it fol- 
lows that John is nothing more than a herald sent on his 
account ; and hence again it is evident that Christ is the 
Messiah. Three things are here stated ; for when he says 
that a man cometh after him, he means that he himself was 
before him in the order of time, to prepare the way for 
Christ, according to the testimony of Malachi, Behold, I send 
my messenger before my face, (Mai. iii. 1.) Again, when he 
says that he teas preferred to himself this relates to the glory 
with which God adorned his Son, when he came into the 
world to fulfil the office of a Redeemer. At last, the reason 
is added, which is, that Christ is far superior in dignity to 
John the Baptist. That honour, therefore, which the Father 
bestowed upon him was not accidental, but was due to his 
eternal majesty. But of this expression, he icas preferred to 
me, because he was before me, I have already spoken. 1 

31. And I knew him not. That his testimony may not be 
suspected of having been given either from friendship or 
favour, he anticipates such a doubt, by affirming that he had 
no other knowledge of Christ than what he had obtained by 
divine inspiration. The meaning, therefore, amounts to this, 
that John does not speak at his own suggestion, nor for the 
favour of man, but by the inspiration of the Spirit and the 
command of God. 

I came baptizing with water ; that is, I was called and ap- 
pointed to this office, that I might manifest him to Israel; 
which the Evangelist afterwards explains more fully, and 
confirms, when he introduces John the Baptist, testifying 
that he had no knowledge of Christ but what he had 
obtained by oracle ; that is, by information or revelation 
from God. 2 Instead of what we find here, I came to baptize, 
he there states expressly (ver. 33) that he u-as sent ; for it is 
only the calling of God that makes lawful ministers, because 
every person who, of his own accord, thrusts himself forward, 
whatever learning or eloquence he may possess, is not entitled 

1 See p. 49. 

2 "Par oracle ; e'est a dire, advertissement on revelation do. Dieu." 


to any authority, and the reason is, that he is not authorised 
by God. Now since it was necessary that John, in order 
that he might lawfully baptize, should be sent by God, let it 
be inferred from this, that it is not in the power of any man 
whatever to institute sacraments, but that this right belongs 
to God alone, as Christ, on another occasion, in order to 
prove the baptism of John, asks if it teas from heaven, or from 
men, (Matth. xxi. 25.) 

32. i~ saic the Spirit descending like a dove. This is not a 
literal but a figurative mode of expression ; for with what 
eyes could he see the Spirit ? But as the dove was a certain 
and infallible sign of the presence of the Spirit, it is called the 
Spirit, by a figure of speech in which one name is substituted 
for another ; not that he is in reality the Spirit, but that he 
points him out, as far as human capacity can admit. And 
this metaphorical language is frequently employed in the 
sacraments ; for why does Christ call the bread his body, but 
because the name of the thing is properly transferred to the 
sign ? especially when the sign is, at the same time, a true 
and efficacious pledge, by which we are made certain that the 
thing itself which is signified is bestowed on us. Yet it must 
not be understood that the dove contained the Spirit who Jills 
heaven and earth, (Jer. xxiii. 24,) but that he was present 
by his power, so that John knew that such an exhibition was 
not presented to his eyes in vain. In like manner, we know 
that the body of Christ is not connected with the bread, and 
yet we are partakers of his body. 

A question now arises, w r hy did the Spirit at that time ap- 
pear in the form of a dove ? We must always hold that there 
is a correspondence between the sign and the reality. When 
the Spirit was given to the apostles, they saw cloven tongues 
of fire, (Acts ii. 3,) because the preaching of the gospel was 
to be spread through all tongues, and was to possess the 
power of fire. But in this passage God intended to make a 
public representation of that mildness of Christ of which 
Isaiah speaks in lofty terms, The smoking jiax he will not 
quench, and the bruised reed he will not break, (Isa. xlii. 3.) It 
was then, for the first time, that the Spirit ivas seen descending 


on him ; not that he had formerly been destitute of him, but 
because he might be said to be then consecrated by a solemn 
rite. For Ave know that he remained in concealment, during 
thirty years, like a private individual, because the time for 
his manifestation was not yet ccme ; but when he intended 
to make himself known to the world, he began with his bap- 
tism. At that time, therefore, he received the Spirit not only 
for himself, but for his people ; and on that account his de- 
scent was visible, that we may know that there dwells in 
him an abundance of all gifts of which we are empty and 
destitute. This may easily be inferred from the words of the 
Baptist ; for when he says, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit 
descending, and remaining on him, it is he who haptizeth with the 
Spirit, his meaning is, that the reason why the Spirit was be- 
held in a visible form, and remained on Christ, was, that he 
might water all his people with his fulness. What it is to 
baptize with the Spirit I have already noticed in a few words ; 
namely, that he imparts its efficacy to baptism, that it may 
not be vain or useless, and this he accomplishes by the power 
of his Spirit. 

33. Upon xohom thou shalt see the Spirit descending. Here a 
difficult question arises ; for if John did not know Christ, why 
does he refuse to admit him to baptism? To a person whom 
he did not know he would not say, I ought rather to be baptized 
by thee, (Matth. iii. 14.) Some reply, that he knew him to such 
an extent as to regard him with the reverence due to a dis- 
tinguished Prophet, but was not aware that he was the Son of 
God. But this is a poor solution of the difficulty, for every 
man ought to obey the calling of God without any respect of 
persons. No rank or excellence of man ought to prevent us 
from doing our duty, and therefore John would have shown 
disrespect to God and to his baptism, if he had spoken in this 
manner to any other person than the Son of God. It follows 
that he must have previously known Christ. 

In the first place, it ought to be observed, that the know- 
ledge here mentioned is that which arises from personal and 
long acquaintance. Although he recognizes Christ whenever 
he sees him, still it does not cease to be true that they were 


not known to each other according to the ordinary custom of 
men, for the commencement of his knowledge proceeded from 
God. But the question is not yet fully answered ; for he 
says that the sight of the Holy Spirit was the mark by which 
he was pointed out to him. Now he had not yet seen the 
Spirit, when he had addressed Christ as the Son of God. 
For my own part, I willingly embrace the opinion of those 
who think that this sign was added for confirmation, and that 
it was not so much for the sake of John as for the sake of us 
all. John indeed saw it, but it was rather for others than 
for himself. Buccr appropriately quotes that saying of Moses, 
This shall be a sign to you, that after three days' journey, you 
shall sacrifice to me on the mountain, (Exod. iii. 12.) Undoubt- 
edly, when they were goings out, they already knew that 
God would conduct and watch over their deliverance ; but 
this was a confirmation a posteriori, as the phrase is ; that is, 
from the event, after it had taken place. In like manner, 
this came as an addition to the former revelation which had 
been given to John. 

34. 2" saw and testified. He means that what he declares 
is not doubtful ; because God was pleased to make him fully 
and thoroughly acquainted with those things of which he was 
to be the witness to the world ; and it is worthy of notice, 
that lie testified that Christ was the Son of God, because he 
who gives the Holy Spirit must be the Christ, for to no other 
belongs the honour and the office of reconciling men to God. 

35. The next day John was again standing, and two of his disciples ; 

36. "And looking at Jesus walking, he said, Behold the Lamb of God ! 

37. And those two disciples heard him speak, and followed Jesus. 38. 
And Jesus turning, and looking at them following him, saith to them, What 
do you seek ? And they said to him, Rabbi, (which, if you interpret it, is 
explained Master,) where dwellest thou ? 39. He saith to them, Come 
and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and remained with him that 
day ; for it was about the tenth hour. 

36. Behold the Lamb of God ! Hence appears more clearly 
what I have already stated, that when John perceived that 
he was approaching the end of his course, he laboured inces- 
santly to resign his office to Christ. His firmness too gives 


greater credit to his testimony. But by insisting so earnestly, 
during many successive days, in repeating the commendation 
of Christ, he shows that his own course was nearly finished. 
Here we see also how small and low the beginning of the 
Church was. John, indeed, prepared disciples for Christ, but 
it is only now that Christ begins to collect a Church. He 
has no more than two men who are mean and unknown, but 
this even contributes to illustrate his glory, that within a 
short period, without human aid, and without a strong hand, 
he spreads his kingdom in a wonderful and incredible manner. 
We ought also to observe what is the chief object to which 
John directs the attention of men ; it is, to find in Christ the 
forgiveness of sins. And as Christ had presented himself to 
the disciples, for the express purpose that they might come 
to him, so now, when they come, he gently encourages and 
exhorts them ; for he does not wait until they first address 
him, but asks, What do you seek ? This kind and gracious 
invitation, which was once made to two persons, now belongs 
to all. "VVe ought not therefore to fear that Christ will with- 
draw from us, or refuse to us easy access, provided that he 
sees us desirous to come to him ; but, on the contrary, he will 
stretch out his hand to assist our endeavours. And how will 
not he meet those who come to him, who seeks at a distance 
those who are wandering and astray, that he may bring them 
back to the right road ? 

38. Rabbi. This name was commonly given to persons of 
high rank, or who possessed any kind of honour. But the 
Evangelist here points out another use of it which was made 
in his own age, which was, that they addressed by this name 
the teachers and expounders of the word of God. Although, 
therefore, those two disciples do not yet recognize Christ as the 
only Teacher of the Church, yet, moved by the commendation 
bestowed on him by John the Baptist, they hold him to be a 
Prophet and Teacher, which is the first step towards receiving 

Where diccllest thou? By this example Ave are taught that 
from the first rudiments of the Church we ought to draw such 
a relish for Christ as will excite our desire to profit ; and next. 


that we ought not to be satisfied with a mere passing look, 
but that we ought to seek his dwelling, that he may receive 
us as guests. For there are very many who smell the gospel 
at a distance only, and thus allow Christ suddenly to disap- 
pear, and all that they have learned concerning him to pass 
away. And though those two persons did not at that time 
become his ordinary disciples, yet there can be no doubt that, 
during that night, he instructed them more fully, so that they 
soon afterwards became entirely devoted to him. 

39. It teas about the tenth hour ; that is, the evening was 
approaching, for it was not more than two hours till sunset. 
The day was at that time divided by them into twelve hours, 
which were longer in summer and shorter in winter. But 
from this circumstance we infer that those disciples were so 
eagerly desirous to hear Christ, and to gain a more intimate 
knowledge of him, that they gave themselves no concern about 
a night's lodging. On the contrary, we are, for the most part, 
very unlike them, for we incessantly delay, because it is not 
convenient for us to follow Christ. 

40. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of those who heard John 
speak and followed him. 41. lie first findeth his own brother Simon, 
and saith to him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, 
(he Christ. 42. He brought him therefore to Jesus ; and Jesus, looking 
at him, said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonah ; thou shalt be called 
Cephas, which is, being interpreted, Peter. 

40. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. The design of the 
Evangelist, down to the end of the chapter, is to inform us 
how gradually the disciples were brought to Christ. Here 
he relates about Peter, and afterwards he will mention Philip 
and Nathanacl. The circumstance of Andrew immediately 
bringing his brother expresses the nature of faith, which does 
not conceal or quench the light, but rather spreads it in every 
direction. Andrew has scarcely a spark, and yet, by means 
of it, he enlightens his brother. Woe to our indolence, there- 
fore, if we do not, after having been fully enlightened, 
endeavour to make others partakers of the same grace. We 
may observe in Andrew two things which Isaiah requires from 
the children of God ; namely, that each should lake his 


neighbour by the hand, and next, that he should say, Come, 
let us go up into the mountain of the Lord, and he will teach us, 
(Isa. ii. 3.) For Andrew stretches out the hand to his 
brother, but at the same time he has this object in view, that 
he may become a fellow-disciple with him in the school of 
Christ. We ought also to observe the purpose of God, which 
determined that Peter, who was to be far more eminent, was 
brought to the knowledge of Christ by the agency and 
ministry of Andrew ; that none of us, however excellent, may 
refuse to be taught by an inferior; for that man will be 
severely punished for his peevishness, or rather for his pride, 
who, through his contempt of a man, will not deign to come 
to Christ. 

41. We have found the Messiah. The Evangelist has inter- 
preted the Hebrew word Messiah (Anointed) by the Greek 
word Christ, in order to publish to the whole world what was 
secretly known to the Jews. It was the ordinary designation 
of kings, 1 as anointing was observed by them as a solemn rite. 
But still they were aware that one King would be anointed 
by God, under whom they might hope to obtain perfect and 
eternal happiness ; especially when they should learn that the 
earthly kingdom of David would not be permanent. And as 
God raised then minds, when subdued and weighed down by 
various calamities, to the expectation of the Messiah, so he 
more clearly revealed to them that his coming was at hand. 
The prediction of Daniel is more clear and forcible than all 
the rest, so far as relates to the name of Christ ; for he does 
not, like the earlier Prophets, ascribe it to kings, but appro- 
priates it exclusively to the Eedeemer, (Dan. ix. 25, 26.) 
Hence this mode of expression became prevalent, so that when 
the Messiah or Christ was mentioned, it was understood that 
no other than the Eedeemer was meant. Thus we shall find 
the woman of Samaria saying, the Messiah will come, (John iv. 
25 ;) which makes it the more wonderful that he who was so 
eagerly desired by all, and whom they had constantly in their 
mouths, should be received by so small a number of persons. 

i See Harmony of the Three Evangelists, vol. i. p. 92, n. 2 ; and p. 142, 
n. 2. 


42. Thou art Simon. Christ gives a name to Simon, not 
as men commonly do, from some past event, or from what is 
now perceived in them, but because he w^as to make him Peter, 
(a stone.) First, he says, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonah. 
He repeats the name of his father in an abridged form ; which 
is common enough when names are translated into other lan- 
guages ; for it will plainly appear from the last chapter that 
he was the son of Johanna or John. But all this amounts to 
nothing more than that he will be a very different person 
from what he now is. For it is not for the sake of honour 
that he mentions his father ; but as he was descended from a 
family which was obscure, and which was held in no estima- 
tion among men, Christ declares that this will not prevent 
him from making Simon a man of unshaken courage. The 
Evangelist, therefore, mentions this as a prediction, that 
Simon received a new name. I look upon it as a prediction, 
not only because Christ foresaw the future stedfastness of 
faith in Peter, but because he foretold what he would give to 
him. He now magnifies the grace which he determined after- 
wards to bestow upon him ; and therefore he does not say that 
this is now his name, but delays it till a future time. 

Thou shalt be called Cephas. All the godly, indeed, may 
justly be called Peters, (stones,) which, having been founded 
on Christ, are fitted for building the temple of God ; but he 
alone is so called on account of his singular excellence. Yet 
the Papists act a ridiculous part, when they substitute him 
in the place of Christ, so as to be the foundation of the 
Church, as if he too were not founded on Christ along with 
the rest of the disciples ; and they are doubly ridiculous when 
out of a stone they make him a head. For among the rhap- 
sodies of Gratian there is a foolish canon under the name of 
Anacletus, who, exchanging a Hebrew word for a Greek one, 
and not distinguishing the Greek word xspa'/.n (keyhole) from 
the Hebrew word Cephas, thinks that by this name Peter 
was appointed to be Head of the Church. Cephas is rather 
a Chaldaic than a Hebrew word ; but that was the customary 
pronunciation of it after the Babylonish captivity. There is, 
then, no ambiguity in the words of Christ ; for he promises 
what Peter had not at all expected, and thus magnifies his 
VOL. I. E 


own grace to all ages, that his former condition may not lead 
us to think less highly of him, since this remarkable appel- 
lation informs us that he was made a new man. 

43. The next day Jesus wished to go into Galilee, and found Philip, and 
said to him, Follow me. 44. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of 
Andrew and Peter. 45. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him, We 
have found Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, of whom Moses in the 
Law, and the Prophets write. 46. Nathanael said to him, Can any good 
thing come out of Nazareth ? Philip said to him, Come and see. 

43. Follow mc. When Philip was inflamed by this single 
word to follow Christ, we infer from it how great is the effi- 
cacy of the w r ord of God ; but it does not appear indiscrimin- 
ately in all, for God addresses many without any advantage, 
just as if he struck their ears with a sound which vanished 
into air. So then the external preaching of the word is in 
itself unfruitful, except that it inflicts a deadly wound on the 
reprobate, so as to render them inexcusable before God. 
But when the secret grace of God quickens it, all the senses 
must be affected in such a manner that men will be prepared 
to follow wherever God calls them. We ought, therefore, 
to pray to Christ that he may display in us the same power 
of the Gospel. In the case of Philip, there was no doubt a 
peculiarity about his following Christ ; for he is commanded 
to follow, not like one of us, but as a domestic, and as a 
familiar companion. But still the calling of all of us is illus- 
trated by this calling of Philip. 

44. Was of Bethsaida. The name of the city appears to 
have been mentioned on purpose, that the goodness of God 
to the three Apostles may be more illustriously displayed. 
We know how severely, on other occasions, Christ threatens 
and curses that city, (Matth. xi. 21 ; Luke x. 13.) Accord- 
ingly, when God brought into favour with him some out of 
a nation so ungodly and wicked, we ought to view it in the 
same light as if they had been brought out of the lowest hell. 
And when Christ, after having drawn them out of that deep 
gulf, honours them so highly as to make them Apostles, it is 
a distinguished favour and worthy of being recorded. 


15. Philip Jlndcth Nathanacl. Though proud men despise 
these feeble beginnings of the Church, yet we ought to per- 
ceive in them a brighter display of the divine glory, than if 
the condition of the kingdom of Christ had been in every 
respect, from the outset, splendid and magnificent; for we 
know to how rich a harvest this small seed afterwards grew. 
Again, we see in Philip the same desire of building which 
formerly appeared in Andrew. His modesty, too, is remark- 
able, in desiring and seeking nothing else than to have others 
to learn along with him, from Him who is a Teacher common 
to all. 

We have found Jesus. How small was the measure of 
Philip's faith appears from this circumstance, that he cannot 
utter a few words about Christ without mingling with them 
two gross errors. He calls him the son of Joseph, and says, 
that Nazareth was his native town, both of which statements 
were false ; and yet, because he is sincerely desirous to do 
good to his brother, and to make Christ known, God ap- 
proves of this instance of his diligence, and even crowns it 
with good success. Each of us ought, no doubt, to endeav- 
our to keep soberly within his own limits; and, certainly, the 
Evangelist does not mention it as worthy of commendation 
in Philip, that he twice disgraces Christ, but relates that his 
doctrine, though faulty and involved in error, was useful, 
because it nevertheless had this for its object, that Christ 
might be truly known. He foolishly says that he was the son 
of Joseph, and ignorantly calls him a native of NazaretJt, but 
yet he leads Nathanacl to no other than the Son of God who 
was born in Bethlehem, (Matth. ii. 1,) and docs not contrive 
a false Christ, but only wishes that they should know him as 
he was exhibited by Moses and the Prophets. We see, then, 
that the chief design of doctrine is, that those who hear us 
should come to Christ in some way or other. 

There are many who engage in abstruse inquiries about 
Christ, but who throw such darkness and intricacy around 
him by their subtleties that fhey can never find him. The 
Papists, for example, will not say that Christ is tin son qj 
Joseph, for they distinctly know what is his name ; but yet 
they annihilate his power, so as to hold out a phantom in the 


room of Christ. Would it not be better to stammer ridicu- 
lously, like Philip, and to hold by the true Christ, than by 
eloquent and ingenious language to introduce a false Christ ? 
On the other hand, there are many poor dunces in the pre- 
sent day, who, though ignorant and unskilled in the use of 
language, make known Christ more faithfully than all the 
theologians of the Pope with their lofty speculations. This 
passage, therefore, warns us that, if any unsuitable language 
has been employed concerning Christ by ignorant and un- 
learned men, we ought not to reject such persons with disdain, 
provided they direct us to Christ ; but that Ave may not be 
withdrawn from Christ by the false imaginations of men, let 
us always have this remedy at hand, to seek the pure know- 
ledge of him from the Laic and the Prophets. 

46. Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? At first, 
Nathanael refuses, the place of Christ's nativity (as described 
by Philip) having given him offence. But, first of all, he is 
deceived by the inconsiderate discourse of Philip ; for what 
Philip foolishly believed Nathanael receives as certain. Next, 
there is added a foolish judgment arising from hatred or 
contempt of the place. Both of these points ought to be 
carefully observed by us. This holy man was not far from 
shutting out against himself all approach to Christ. Why 
was this ? Because he rashly believes what Philip spoke 
incorrectly about Christ ; and next, because his mind was 
under the influence of a preconceived opinion that no good 
thing could come out of Nazareth. If then we are not carefully 
on our guard, we shall be liable to the same danger ; and Sa- 
tan labours every day, by similar obstacles, to hinder us from 
coming to Christ ; for he has the dexterity to spread many 
falsehoods, the tendency of which is to excite our hatred or 
suspicion against the Gospel, that we may not venture to 
taste it. And next, he ceases not to try another method, 
namely, to make us look on Christ with contempt ; for we 
see how many there are who take offence at the degradation 
of the cross, which appears both in Christ the Head and in 
his members. But as we can hardly be so cautious as not 


to be tempted by those stratagems of Satan, let us at least 
remember immediately this caution : 

Come and see. Nathanael allowed his twofold error to be 
corrected by this expression which Philip uttered. Follow- 
ing his example, let us first show ourselves to be submissive 
and obedient ; and next, let us not shrink from inquiry, when 
Christ himself is ready to remove the doubts which harass 
us. Those who read these words not as a question, but as 
an affirmation, Some good thing mag come out of Nazareth, are 
greatly mistaken. For, in the first place, how trivial would 
such an observation be ? And next, we know that the city 
Nazareth was not at that time held in estimation ; and 
Philip's reply shows plainly enough that it was expressive of 
hesitation and distrust. 

47. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, he saith of him, Behold, 
one truly an Israelite, in whom there is no deceit. 48. Nathanael saith 
to him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said to him, 
Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw 
thee. 49. Nathanael answered and said to him, Rabbi, thou art the Son 
of God, thou art the King of Israel. 50. Jesus answered and said to 
him, Because I said to thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, thou believest ; 1 
thou shalt see greater things than these. 51. Then he said to him, Verity, 
verily, I say to you, Hereafter you shall see heaven opened, and the angels 
of God ascending and descending on the Son of man. 

47. Behold, one trulg an Israelite. It is not on Nathanael's 
own account that Christ bestows on him this commendation, 
but under his person he holds out a general doctrine. For, 
since many who boast of being believers are very far from 
being actually believers, it is of great importance that some 
mark should be found for distinguishing the true and genuine 
from the false. We know how haughtily the Jews gloried 
in their father Abraham, and how presumptuously they 
boasted of the holiness of their descent ; and yet there was 
scarcely one in a hundred among them who was not utterly 
degenerate and alienated from the faith of the Fathers. For 
this reason, Christ, in order to tear the mask from hypocrites, 
gives a short definition of a true Israelite, and, at the same 
time, removes the offence which would afterwards arise from 

1 "Tu crois, ou, crois-tu ?" — " Thou believest, or, believest thou?" 


the wicked obstinacy of the nation. For those who wished 
to be accounted the children of Abraham, and the holy peo- 
ple of God, were shortly afterwards to become the deadly 
enemies of the Gospel. That none may be discouraged or 
alarmed by the impiety which was generally found in almost 
all ranks, he gives a timely warning, that of those by whom 
the name of Israelites is assumed there are few who are true 

Again, as this passage contains a definition of Christianity, 
we must not pass by it slightly. To sum up the meaning of 
Christ in a few words, it ought to be observed that deceit is 
contrasted with uprightness and sincerity ;' so that he calls 
those persons sly 2 and deceitful who arc called in other parts 
of Scripture double in heart, (Psal. xii. 2.) Nor is it only that 
gross hypocrisy by which those who are conscious of their 
wickedness pretend to be good men, but likewise another 
inward hypocrisy, when men are so blinded by their vices that 
they not only deceive others but themselves. So then it is 
integrity of heart before God, and uprightness before men, 
that makes a Christian; but Christ points out chiefly that 
kind of deceit which is mentioned in Psal. xxxii. 2. In this 
passage uXrj6u$ (truli/) means something more than certainly. 
The Greek word, no doubt, is often used as a simple affirma- 
tion ; but as Ave must here supply a contrast between the fact 
and the mere name, he is said to be truly, who is in reality 
what he is supposed to be. 

48. Whence knowest thou ? Though Christ did not intend 
to flatter him, yet he wished to be heard by him, in order to 
draw forth a new question, by the reply to which he would 
prove himself to be the Son of God. Nor is it without a 
good reason that Nathanael asks ichence Christ knew him ; for 
to meet with a man of such uprightness as to be free from all 
deceit is an uncommon case, and to know such purity of heart 
belongs to God alone. The reply of Christ, however, appears 
to be inappropriate ; for though he saw Nathanael under the 
fy-trce, it does not follow from this that he could penetrate 

1 " Rondeur et svneeritu." 2 " Canteleux et frauduleux." 


into the deep secrets of the heart. But there is another 
reason ; for as it belongs to God to know men when they are 
not seen, so also does it belong to Him to see what is not 
visible to the eyes. As Nathanacl knew that Christ did not 
see him after the manner of men, but by a look truly divine, 
this might lead him to conclude that Christ did not now speak 
as a man. The proof, therefore, is taken from things which 
are of the same class ; for not less does it belong to God to see 
what lies beyond our view than to judge concerning purity 
of heart. We ought also to gather from this passage a useful 
doctrine, that when we are not thinking of Christ, we are 
observed by him ; and it is necessary that it should be so, 
that he may bring us back, when we have wandered from the 
right path. 

49. Thou art the Son of God. That he acknowledges him 
to be the Son of God from his divine power is not wonderful ; 
but on what ground does he call him King of Israel? for the two 
things do not appear to be necessarily connected. But Na- 
thanael takes a loftier view. He had already heard that he 
is the Messiah, and to this doctrine he adds the confirmation 
which had been given him. He holds also another principle, 
that the Son of God will not come without exercising the 
office of King over the people of God. Justly, therefore, does 
he acknowledge that he who is the Son of God is also King of 
Israel. And, indeed, faith ought not to be fixed on the 
essence of Christ alone, (so to speak,) but ought to attend to 
his power and office ; for it would be of little advantage to 
know who Christ is, if this second point were not added, 
what he wishes to be towards us, and for what purpose the 
Father sent him. The reason why the Papists have nothing 
more than a shadow of Christ is, that they have been careful 
to look at his mere essence, but have disregarded his kingdom, 
which consists in the power to save. 

Again, when Nathanael calls him King of Israel, though his 
kingdom extends to the remotest bounds of the earth, the 
confession is limited to the measure of faith. For he had not 
yet advanced so far as to know that Christ was appointed to be 
King over the whole world, or rather, that from every quarter 


would be collected the children of Abraham, so that the whole 
Avorld would be the Israel of God. We to whom the wide 
extent of Christ's kingdom has been revealed ought to go 
beyond those narrow limits. Yet following the example of 
Nathanael, let us exercise our faith in hearing the word, and 
let us strengthen it by all the means that are in our power ; 
and let it not remain buried, but break out into confession. 

50. Jesus answered. He does not reprove Nathanael as if 
he had been too easy of belief, but rather approving of his 
faith, promises to him and to others that he will confirm it 
by stronger arguments. Besides, it was peculiar to one man 
that he was seen under a jig-tree by Christ, when absent and at 
a distance from him ; but now Christ brings forward a proof 
which would be common to all, and thus — as if he had broken 
off from what he originally intended — instead of addressing 
one man, he turns to address all. 

51. You shall see heaven opened. They are greatly mistaken, 
in my opinion, who anxiously inquire into the place where, 
and the time when, Nathanael and others saw heaven opened ; 
for he rather points out something perpetual Avhich was 
always to exist in his kingdom. I acknowledge indeed, that 
the disciples sometimes saw angels, who are not seen in the 
present day ; and I acknowledge also that the manifestation 
of the heavenly glory, when Christ ascended to heaven, was 
different from what we now behold. But if we duly consider 
what took place at that time, it is of perpetual duration ; for 
the kingdom of God, which was formerly closed against us, 
is actually opened in Christ. A visible instance of this was 
shown to Stephen, (Acts vii. 55,) to the three disciples on 
the mountain, (Matth. xvii. 5,) and to the other disciples at 
Christ's ascension, (Luke xxiv. 51 ; Acts i. 9.) But all the 
signs by which God shows himself present with us depend 
on this opening of heaven, more especially when God com- 
municates himself to us to be our life. 

Ascending and descending on the Son of man. This second 
clause refers to angels. They are said to ascend and descend, 
so as to be ministers of God's kindness towards us ; and 


therefore this mode of expression points out the mutual inter- 
course which exists between God and men. Now we must 
acknowledge that this benefit was received through Christ, 
because without him the angels have rather a deadly enmity 
against us than a friendly care to help us. They are said to 
ascend and descend ON the SON OF man, not because they 
minister to him, but because — in reference to him, and for his 
honour — they include the whole body of the Church in their 
friendly regard. Nor have I any doubt that he alludes to the 
ladder which was exhibited to the patriarch Jacob in a dream, 
(Gen. xxviii. 12 ;) for what was prefigured by that vision is 
actually fulfilled in Christ. In short, this passage teaches us, 
that though the whole human race was banished from the 
kingdom of God, the gate of heaven is now opened to us, so 
that we are fellow- citizens of the saints, and companions of the 
angels, (Eph. ii. 19 ;) and that they, having been appointed 
to be guardians of our salvation, descend from the blessed 
rest of the heavenly glory x to relieve our distresses. 


1. Three days after, 2 there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee ; and the 
mother of Jesus was there. 2. And Jesus also was invited, and his dis- 
ciples, to the marriage. 3. And when the wine fell short, the mother of 
Jesus saith to him, They have no wine. 4. Jesus saith to her, What have 
I to do with thee ? my hour is not yet come. 5. His mother saith to the 
servants, Do whatever he shall bid you. 6. And there were there six 
water-pots of stone, placed according to the Jewish custom of cleansing, 
containing each of them about two or three baths. 7. Jesus saith to them, 
Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them to the brim. 8. 
And he saith to them, Draw out now, and carry to the master of the 
feast; and they carried. 9. And when the master of the feast had tasted 
the water which was made wine, (and knew not whence it was, but the 
servants who drew the water knew,) the master of the feast calleth the 
bridegroom, 10. And saith to him, Every man at first sets down good 
wine ; and when men have drunk freely, then that which is worse ; but 
thou hast kept the good wine till now. 11. This beginning of miracles 
did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and displayed his glory, and his disciples 
believed on him. 

1 " De la gloire celeste." 2 " Tertio die ;" — " trois jours apres." 


1. There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. As this narra- 
tive contains the first miracle which Christ performed, it 
would be proper for us, were it on this ground alone, to con- 
sider the narrative attentively; though — as we shall afterwards 
see — there are other reasons which recommend it to our notice. 
But while we proceed, the various advantages arising from it 
will be more clearly seen. The Evangelist first mentions 
Cana of Galilee, not that which was situated towards Zare- 
phath (1 Kings xvii. 9 ; Obad. 20; Luke iv. 26) orSarepta, 
between Tyre and Sidon, and was called the greater in com- 
parison of this latter Cana, which is placed by some in the 
tribe of Zebulun, and by others in the tribe of Asher. For 
Jerome too assures us that, even in his time, there existed a 
small town which bore that name. There is reason to believe 
that it was near the city of Nazareth, since the mother of 
Christ came there to attend the marriage. From the fourth 
chapter of this book it will be seen that it was not more than 
one day's journey distant from Capernaum. That it lay not 
far from the city of Bethsaida may also be inferred from the 
circumstance, that three days after Christ had been in those 
territories, the marriage was celebrated — the Evangelist tells 
us — in Cana of Galilee. There may have been also a third 
Cana, not far from Jerusalem, and yet out of Galilee ; but I 
leave this undetermined, because I am unacquainted with it. 

And the mother of Jesus was there. It was probably one 
of Christ's near relations w r ho married a wife ; for Jesus is 
mentioned as having accompanied his mother. From the fact 
that the disciples also are invited, we may infer how plain 
and frugal Avas his way of living ; for he lived in common 
with them. It may be thought strange, however, that a 
man who has no great wealth or abundance (as will be made 
evident from the scarcity of the wine) invites four or five 
other persons on Christ's account. But the poor are readier 
and more frank in their invitations ; because they are not, 
like the rich, afraid of being disgraced, if they do not treat 
their guests with great costliness and splendour; for the poor 
adhere more zealously to the ancient custom of having an 
extended acquaintance. 

Again, it may be supposed to show a want of courtesy, 


that the bridegroom allows his guests, in the middle of the 
entertainment, to be in want of wine ; for it looks like a man 
of little thought fulness not to have a sufficiency of wine for 
his guests. I reply, nothing is here related which does not 
frequently happen, especially when people are not accustomed 
to the daily use of wine. Besides, the context shows, that 
it was towards the conclusion of the banquet that the wine 
fell short, when, according to custom, it might be supposed 
that they had already drunk enough ; for the master of the 
feast thus speaks, Other men ]>lacc ivorse wine before those who 
lid re drunk enough, but thou hast kqA the best till note. Besides, 
I have no doubt that all this was regulated by the Provi- 
dence of God, that there might be room for the miracle. 

3. Tlie mother of Jesus saith to 1dm. It may be doubted if 
she expected or asked any thing from her Son, since he had 
not yet performed any miracle ; and it is possible that, with- 
out expecting any remedy of this sort, she advised him to 
give some pious exhortations which would have the effect 
of preventing the guests from feeling uneasiness, and at 
the same time of relieving the shame of the bridegroom. I 
consider her words to be expressive of {d-j/j^aQua) earnest 
compassion ; for the holy woman, perceiving that those who 
had been invited were likely to consider themselves as having 
been treated with disrespect, and to murmur against the 
bridegroom, and that the entertainment might in that way 
be disturbed, wished that some means of soothing them 
could be adopted. Chrysostom throws out a suspicion that 
she was moved by the feelings of a woman to seek I know 
not what favour for herself and her Son ; but this conjecture 
is not supported by any argument. 

4. Woman, what have I to do witli thee ? Why does Christ 
repel her so rashly ? I reply, though she was not moved by 
ambition, nor by any carnal affection, still she did wrong in 
going beyond her proper bounds. Her anxiety about the 
inconvenience endured by others, and her desire to have it 
in some way mitigated, proceeded from humanity, and ought 
to be regarded as a virtue ; but still, by putting herself for- 


ward, she might obscure the glory of Christ. Though it 
ought also to be observed, that what Christ spoke was not so 
much for her sake as for the sake of others. Her modesty 
and piety were too great to need so severe a chastisement. 
Besides, she did not knowingly and willingly offend ; but 
Christ only meets the danger, that no improper use may be 
made of what his mother had said, as if it were in obedience 
to her command that he afterwards performed the miracle. 

The Greek words (t/ I/ao! xa.1 col;) literally mean, What to 
mc and to thee ? But the Greek phraseology is of the same 
import with the Latin — Quid tibi mecum ? (what hast thou to 
do with me ?) The old translator led many people into a 
mistake, by supposing Christ to have asserted, that it was 
no concern of his, or of his mother's, if the wine fell short. 
But from the second clause we may easily conclude how far 
removed this is from Christ's meaning ; for he takes upon 
himself this concern, and declares that it belongs to him to 
do so, when he adds, my hour is not yet come. Both ought to be 
joined together — that Christ understands what it is necessary 
for him to do, and yet that he will not act in this matter at 
his mother's suggestion. 

It is a remarkable passage certainly ; for why does he 
absolutely refuse to his mother what he freely granted after- 
wards, on so many occasions, to all sorts of persons ? Again, 
why is he not satisfied with a bare refusal ? and why does he 
reduce her to the ordinary rank of icomen, and not even deign 
to call her mother ? This saying of Christ openly and mani- 
festly warns men to beware lest, by too superstitiously 
elevating the honour of the name of mother in the Virgin 
Mary, 1 they transfer to her what belongs exclusively to God. 
Christ, therefore, addresses his mother in this manner, in 
order to lay down a perpetual and general instruction to all 
ages, that his divine glory must not be obscured by exces- 
sive honour paid to his mother. 

How necessary this warning became, in consequence of 
the gross and disgraceful superstitions which followed after- 
wards, is too w r ell known. For Mary has been constituted 

1 " En la vierge Marie." 


the Queen of Heaven, the Hope, the Life, and the Salvation 
of the world ; and, in short, their fury and madness proceeded 
so far that they stripped Christ of his spoils, and left him 
almost naked. And when we condemn those horrid blas- 
phemies against the Son of God, the Papists call us malignant 
and envious; and — what is worse — they maliciously slander us 
as deadly foes to the honour of the holy Virgin. As if she 
had not all the honour that is due to her, unless she were 
made a Goddess ; or as if it were treating her with respect, 
to adorn her with blasphemous titles, and to substitute her 
in the room of Christ. The Papists, therefore, offer a griev- 
ous insult to Mary when, in order to disfigure her by false 
praises, they take from God what belongs to Him. 

My hour is not yet come. He means that he has not 
hitherto delayed through carelessness or indolence, but at 
the same time he states indirectly that he will attend to the 
matter, when the proper time for it shall arrive. As he 
reproves his mother for unseasonable haste, so, on the other 
hand, he gives reason to expect a miracle. The holy Virgin 
acknowledges both, for she abstains from addressing him 
any farther ; and when she advises the servants to do what- 
ever he commands, she shows that she expects something 
now. But the instruction conveyed here is still more exten- 
sive, that whenever the Lord holds us in suspense, and delays 
his aid, he is not therefore asleep, but, on the contrary, 
regulates all His works in such a manner that he does 
nothing but at the proper time. Those who have applied 
this passage to prove that the time of events is appointed by 
Fate, are too ridiculous to recmire a single word to be said 
for refuting them. The hour of Christ sometimes denotes 
the hour which had been appointed to him by the Father ; 
and by his time he will afterwards designate what he found 
to be convenient and suitable for executing the commands 
of his Father ; but in this place he claims the right to take 
and choose the time for working and for displaying his Divine 
power. 1 

1 " L)j be^ongier et desployer sa virtue Diviuc.'' 


5. His mother saith to the servants. Here the holy Virgin 
gives an instance of true obedience which she owed to her 
Son, 1 when the question related, not to the relative duties of 
mankind, but to his divine power. She modestly acquiesces, 
therefore, in Christ's reply; and in like manner exhorts others 
to comply with his injunctions. I acknowledge, indeed, that 
what the Virgin now said related to the present occurrence, 
and amounted to a declaration that, in this instance, she had 
no authority, and that Christ would do, according to his own 
pleasure, whatever he thought right. But if you attend 
closely to her design, the statement which she made is still 
more extensive; for she first disclaims and lays aside the 
power which she might seem to have improperly usurped ; 
and next, she ascribes the whole authority to Christ, when 
she bids them do whatever he shall command. We are taught 
generally by these words, that if wo desire any thing from 
Christ, we will not obtain our wishes, unless we depend on 
him alone, look to him, and, in short, do whatever he com- 
mands. On the other hand, he does not send us to his 
mother, but rather invites us to himself. 

6. And their were there six water-pots of stone. According 
to the computation of Budseus, we infer that these water- 
pots were very large ; for as the metreta* (/xsr^r^c) contains 
twenty conrjii, each contained, at least, a Sextier of this 
country. 3 Christ supplied them, therefore, with a great 
abundance of wine, as much as would be sufficient for a ban- 
quet to a hundred and fifty men. Besides, both the number 
and the size of the tvater-pots serve to prove the truth of the 
miracle. If there had been only two or three jars, many might 
have suspected that they had been brought from some other 
place. If in one vessel only the water had been changed into 

1 " :i son Fils." 

2 The exact size of the firkin cannot be easily ascertained. If t u-:7£f,ry: 
be here used by the Evangelist as a purely Greek word, we must conclude 
it to be an Attic measure, which was nearly equal to nine English gallons. 
If, again, it be placed here as a substitute for the Hebrew won! rn, (Bath,) 
as the Septuagint has done in 2 Chron. iv. 5, it will probably be rated 
at seven gallons and a half. — Ed. 

t " Ue ee pays de Savoye ;*' — " of this country, Savoy." 


wine, the certainty of the miracle would not have been so obvi- 
ous, or so well ascertained. It is not, therefore, without a good 
reason that the Evangelist mentions the number of the water- 
pots, and states how much they contained. 

It arose from superstition that vessels so numerous and so 
large were placed there. They had the ceremony of washing, 
indeed, prescribed to them by the Law of God ; but as the 
world is prone to excess in outward matters, the Jews, not 
satisfied with the simplicity which God had enjoined, amused 
themselves with continual washings ; and as superstition is 
ambitious, they undoubtedly served the purpose of display, 
as we see at the present day in Popery, that every thing 
which is said to belong to the worship of God is arranged 
for pure display. There was, then, a twofold error : that 
without the command of God, they engaged in a superfluous 
ceremony of their own invention ; and next, that, under the 
pretence of religion, ambition reigned amidst that display. 
Some Popish scoundrels have manifested an amazing degree 
of wickedness, when they had the effrontery to say that they 
had among their relics those water-pots with which Christ 
performed this miracle in Cana, and exhibited some of them ; l 
which, first, are of small size, and, next, are unequal in size. 
And in the present day, when the light of the Gospel shines 
so clearly around us, they are not ashamed to practise those 
tricks, which certainly is not to deceive by enchantments, 
but daringly to mock men as if they were blind ; and the 
world, which does not perceive such gross mockery, is evi- 
dently bewitched by Satan. 

7. Fill the water-pots with water. The servants might be 
apt to look upon this injunction as absurd ; for they had 
already more than enough of water. But in this way the 
Lord often acts towards us, that his power may be more 
illustriously displayed by an unexpected result ; though this 
circumstance is added to magnify the miracle ; for when the 
servants drew wine out of vessels which had been filled with 
water, no suspicion can remain. 

1 _" Qu'ils avoyent entre leurs reliques de ces eruches, esqueUes Chvist 
avoit fait cc miracle en Cana, et en monstroyent." 


8. And carry to the master of the feast For the same 
reason as before, Christ wished that the flavour of the wine 
should be tried by the master of the feast, before it had been 
tasted by himself, or by any other of the guests ; and the 
readiness with which the servants obey him in all things 
shows us the great reverence and respect in which he was 
held by them. The Evangelist gives the name of the master 
of the feast to him who had the charge of preparing the 
banquet and arranging the tables ; not that the banquet was 
costly and magnificent, but because the honourable appella- 
tions borrowed from the luxury and splendour of the rich are 
applied even to the marriages of the poor. But it is won- 
derful that a large quantity of wine, and of the very best 
wine, is supplied by Christ, who is a teacher of sobriety. I 
reply, when God daily gives us a large supply of wine, it is 
our own fault if his kindness is an excitement to luxury ; 
but, on the other hand, it is an undoubted trial of our 
sobriety, if we are sparing and moderate in the midst of 
abundance ; as Paul boasts that he had learned to knoiv both 
how to be fdl and to be hungry, (Phil. iv. 12.) 

11. This beginning of miracles. The meaning is, that this 
was the first of Christ's miracles ; for when the angels 
announced to the shepherds that he was born in Bethlehem, 
(Luke ii. 8,) when the star appeared to the Magi, (Matth. ii. 
2,) when the Holy Spirit descended on him in the shape of a 
dove, (Matth. iii. 16 ; Mark i. 10 ; John i. 32,) though these 
were miracles, yet, strictly speaking, they were not performed 
by him ; but the Evangelist now speaks of the miracles of 
which he was himself the Author. For it is a frivolous and 
absurd interpretation which some give, that this is reckoned 
the first among the miracles which Christ performed in Cana 
of Galilee ; as if a place, in which we do not read that he ever 
was more than twice, had been selected by him for a display 
of his power. It was rather the design of the Evangelist 
to mark the order of time which Christ followed in the 
exercise of his power. For until he was thirty years of age, 
he kept himself concealed at home, like one who held no public 
office. Having been consecrated, at his baptism, to the dis- 


charge of his office, he then began to appear in public, and to 
show by clear proofs for what purpose he was sent by the 
Father. We need not wonder, therefore, if he delayed till 
this time the first proof of his Divinity. It is a high honour 
given to marriage, that Christ not only deigned to be present 
at a nuptial banquet, but honoured it with his first miracle. 
There are some ancient Canons which forbid the clergy to 
attend a marriage. The reason of the prohibition was, that 
by being the spectators of the wickedness which was usually 
practised on such occasions, they might in some measure be 
regarded as approving of it. But it would have been far 
better to carry to such places so much gravity as to restrain 
the licentiousness in which unprincipled and abandoned men 
indulge, when they are withdrawn from the eyes of others. 
Let us, on the contrary, take Christ's example for our rule ; 
and let us not suppose that any thing else than what we read 
that he did can be profitable to us. 

And manifested his glory ; that is, because he then gave a 
striking and illustrious proof, by which it was ascertained that 
he was the Son of God; for all the miracles which he exhibited 
to the world were so many demonstrations of his divine 
power. The proper time for displaying his glory was now 
come, when he wished to make himself known, agreeably to 
the command of his Father. Hence, also, we learn the end 
of miracles ; for this expression amounts to a declaration that 
Christ, in order to manifest his glory, performed this miracle. 
What, then, ought we to think of those miracles which obscure 
the glory of Christ ? 

And his disciples believed on him. If they were disciples, they 
must already have possessed some faith ; but as they had 
hitherto followed him with a faith which was not distinct and 
firm, they began at that time to devote themselves to him, 
so as to acknowledge him to be the Messiah, such as he had 
already been announced to them. The forbearance of Christ 
is great in reckoning as disciples those whose faith is so small. 
And indeed this doctrine extends generally to us all ; for the 
faith which is now full grown had at first its infancy, nor is 
it so perfect in any as not to make it necessary that all to a 
man should make progress in believing. Thus, they who now 
vol. i. P 


believed may be said to begin to believe, so far as they daily 
make progress towards the end of their faith, Let those who 
have obtained the first-fruits of faith labour always to make 
progress. These words point out likewise the advantage of 
miracles ; namely, that they ought to be viewed as intended 
for the confirmation and progress of faith. "Whoever twists 
them to any other purpose corrupts and debases the whole 
use of them ; as we see that Papists boast of their pretended 
miracles for no other purpose than to bury faith, and to turn 
away the minds of men from Christ to the creatures. 

12. After this lie went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his 
brethren, and his disciples : and he remained there not many days. 13. 
And the passover of the Jews was at hand ; therefore, Jesus went up to 
Jerusalem. 14. And found in the temple some who sold oxen, and sheep, 
and doves, and money-changers also sitting. 1 5. And having made a 
whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen, 
and threw down the money of the changers, and overturned the tables ; 
16. And said to those who sold doves, Take those things hence ; do not 
make my Father's house a house of merchandise. 17. And his disciples 
remembered that it was written, The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up. 

12. He went down to Capernaum. The Evangelist passes 
to an additional narrative ; for having resolved to collect a 
few things worthy of remembrance which the other three had 
left out, he states the time when the occurrence which he is 
about to relate took place ; for the other three also relate 
what we here read that Christ did, but the diversity of the 
time shows that it was a similar event, but not the same. On 
two occasions, then, did Christ cleanse the temple from base 
and profane merchandise ; once, when he was beginning to 
discharge his commission, and another time, (IVJatth. xxi. 12 ; 
Mark xi. 15; Luke xix. 45,) when he was about to leave the 
icorld and go to the Father, (John xvi. 28.) 

To obtain a general view of the passage, it will be necessary 
briefly to examine the details in their order. That oxen, and 
sheep, and doves, were exposed to sale in the temple, and that 
money-changers were sitting there, was not without a plausible 
excuse. For they might allege that the merchandise trans- 
acted there was not irreligious, but, on the contrary, related 
to the sacred worship of God, that every person might obtain, 
without difficulty, what he might offer to the Lord ; and, 


certainly, it was exceedingly convenient for godly persons to 
find oblations of any sort laid ready to their hand, and in this 
way to be freed from the trouble of running about in various 
directions to obtain them. We are apt to wonder, therefore, 
why Christ was so highly displeased with it. But there are two 
reasons which deserve our attention. First, as the Priests 
abused this merchandise for their own gain and avarice, such 
a mockery of God could not be endured. Secondly, whatever 
excuse men may plead, as soon as they depart, however 
slightly, from the command of God, they deserve reproof and 
need correction. And this is the chief reason why Christ 
undertook to purify the temple ; for he distinctly states that 
the temple of God is not a place of merchandise. 

But it may be asked, Why did he not rather begin with 
doctrine ? For it seems to be a disorderly and improper 
method to apply the hand for correcting faults, before the 
remedy of doctrine has been applied. But Christ had a 
different object in view : for the time being now at hand when 
he would publicly discharge the office assigned to him by the 
Father, he wished in some way to take possession of the 
temple, and to give a proof of his divine authority. And that 
all might be attentive to his doctrine, it was necessary that 
something new and strange should be done to awaken their 
sluggish and drowsy minds. Now, the temple was a sanctuary 
of heavenly doctrine and of true religion. Since he wished 
to restore purity of doctrine, it was of great importance that 
he should prove himself to be the Lord of the temple. Besides, 
there was no other way in which he could bring back sacrifices 
and the other exercises of religion to their spiritual design 
than by removing the abuse of them. What he did at that 
time was, therefore, a sort of preface to that reformation which 
the Father had sent him to accomplish. In a word, it Avas 
proper that the Jews should be aroused by this example to 
expect from Christ something that was unusual and out of 
the ordinary course ; and it was also necessary to remind 
them that the worship of God had been corrupted and per- 
verted, that they might not object to the reformation of those 

And his brethren. Why the brethren of Christ accompanied 


him, cannot be determined with certainty, unless, perhaps, they 
intended to go along with him to Jerusalem. The word 
brethren,it is well known, is employed, in the Hebrew language, 
to denote cousins and other relatives. 

13. And the passover of the Jews was at hand; therefore Jesus 
went up to Jerusalem. The Greek words %al uvsfiri, may be 
literally rendered, AND he went up ; but the Evangelist has 
used the copulative and instead of therefore ; for he means 
that Christ went up at that time, in order to celebrate the 
passover at Jerusalem. There were two reasons why he did 
so ; for since the Son of God became subject to the Law on 
our account, he intended, by observing with exactness all the 
precepts of the Law, to present in his own person a pattern 
of entire subjection and obedience. Again, as he could do 
more good, when there was a multitude of people, he almost 
always availed himself of such an occasion. Whenever, there- 
fore, we shall afterwards find it said that Christ came to 
Jerusalem at the feast, let the reader observe that he did so, 
first, that along with others he might observe the exercises of 
religion which God had appointed, and, next, that he might 
publish his doctrine amidst a larger concourse of people. 

16. Make not my Father 's house a house of merchandise. At 
the second time that he drove the traders out of the Temple, 
the Evangelists relate that he used sharper and more severe 
language ; for he said, that they had made the Temple of God 
a den of robbers, (Matth. xxi. 13 ;) and this was proper to be 
done, when a milder chastisement was of no avail. At pre- 
sent, he merely warns them not to profane the Temple of 
God by applying it to improper uses. The Temple was 
called the house of God; because it was the will of God that 
there He should be peculiarly invoked ; because there He dis- 
played his power; because, finally, he had set it apart to spirit- 
ual and holy services. 

My Father 's house. Christ declares himself to be the Son 
of God, in order to show that he has a right and authority to 
cleanse the Temple. As Christ here assigns a reason for what 
he did, if we wish to derive any advantage from it, we must 


attend chiefly to this sentence. Why, then, does he drive the 
buyers and sellers out of the Temple ? It is that he may 
bring back to its original purity the worship of God, which 
had been corrupted by the wickedness of men, and in this 
way may restore and maintain the holiness of the Temple. 
Now that temple, we know, was erected, that it might be a 
shadow of those things the lively image of which is to be 
found in Christ. That it might continue to be devoted to 
God, it was necessary that it should be applied exclusively to 
spiritual purposes. For this reason he pronounces it to be 
unlawful that it should be converted into a market-place ; for 
he founds his statement on the command of God, which we 
ought always to observe. Whatever deceptions Satan may 
employ, let us know that any departure — however small — 
from the command of God is wicked. It was a plausible and 
imposing disguise, that the worship of God was aided and 
promoted, when the sacrifices which were to be offered by 
believers were laid ready to their hand; but as God had 
appropriated his Temple to different purposes, Christ disre- 
gards the objections that might be offered against the order 
which God had appointed. 

The same arguments do not apply, in the present day, to 
our buildings for public worship ; but what is said about the 
ancient Temple applies properly and strictly to the Church, 
for it is the heavenly sanctuary of God on earth. We ought 
always, therefore, to keep before our eyes the majesty of God, 
which dwells in the Church, that it may not be defiled by any 
pollutions ; and the only way in which its holiness can remain 
unimpaired is, that nothing shall be admitted into it that is 
at variance with the word of God. 

1 7. And his disciples remembered. It is to no purpose that 
some people teaze themselves with the inquiry how the 
disciples remembered a passage of Scripture, with the meaning 
of which they were hitherto unacquainted. For we must 
not understand that this passage of Scripture came to their 
remembrance at that time ; but afterwards, when, having 
been taught by God, they considered with themselves what 
was the meaning of this action of Christ, by the direction of 


the Holy Spirit this passage of Scripture occurred to them. 
And, indeed, it does not always happen that the reason of 
God's works is immediately perceived by us, but afterwards, 
in process of time, He makes known to us his purpose. 
And this is a bridle exceedingly well adapted to restrain our 
presumption, that we may not murmur against God, if at 
any time our judgment does not entirely approve of what he 
does. We are at the same time reminded, that when God 
holds us as it were in suspense, it is our duty to wait for 
the time of more abundant knowledge, and to restrain the 
excessive haste which is natural to us ; for the reason why 
God delays the full manifestation of his works is, that he 
may keep us humble. 

The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up. The meaning is, 
that the disciples at length came to know, that the zeal for 
the house of God, with which Christ burned, excited him to 
drive out of it those profanations. By a figure of speech, in 
which a part is taken for the whole, David employs the 
name of the temple to denote the whole worship of God ; 
for the entire verse runs thus : the zeal of thy house hath eaten 
me up, and the reproaches of them who reproached thee have 
fallen on me, (Psa. lxix. 9.) The second clause corresponds 
to the first j or rather it is nothing else than a repetition 
explaining what had been said. The amount of both clauses 
is, that David's anxiety about maintaining the worship of 
God was so intense, that he cheerfully laid down his head 
to receive all the reproaches which wicked men threw against 
God ; and that he burned with such zeal, that this single 
feeling swallowed up every other. He tells us that he him- 
self had such feelings ; but there can be no doubt that he 
described in his own person what strictly belonged to the 

Accordingly, the Evangelist says, that this was one of the 
marks by which the disciples knew that it was Jesus who 
protected and restored the kingdom of God. Now observe 
that they followed the guidance of Scripture, in order to 
form such an opinion concerning Christ as they ought to 
entertain ; and, indeed, no man will ever learn what Christ 
is, or the object of what he did and suffered, unless he has 


been taught and guided by Scripture. So far, then, as each 
of us shall desire to make progress in the knowledge of 
Christ, it will be necessary that Scripture shall be the 
subject of our diligent and constant meditation. Nor is it 
without a good reason that David mentions the house of 
God, when the divine glory is concerned ; for though God 
is sufficient for himself, and needs not the services of any, 
yet he wishes that his glory should be displayed in the 
Church. In this way he gives a remarkable proof of his 
love towards us, because he unites his glory — as it were, by 
an indissoluble link — with our salvation. 

Now as Paul informs us that, in the example of the head, 
a general doctrine is presented to the whole body, (Rom. 
xv. 3,) let each of us apply to the invitation of Christ, that — 
so far as lies in our power — we may not permit the temple of 
God to be in any way polluted. But, at the same time, we 
must beware lest any man transgress the bounds of his call- 
ing. All of us ought to have zeal in common with the Son 
of God ; but all are not at liberty to seize a whip, that we 
may correct vices with our hands ; for we have not received 
the same power, nor have we been intrusted with the same 

18. The Jews then answered and said to him, What sign 1 showest 
thou to us, that thou doest these things ? 19. Jesus answered and said 
to them, Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days. 20. The 
Jews therefore said, Forty and six years was this temple in building ; and 
wilt thou raise it up in three days ? 21. But he spoke of the temple of 
his body. 22. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples 
remembered that he had said this to them ; and they believed the Scrip- 
ture, and the word which Jesus had spoken. 

18. What sign showest thou to us ? When in so large an 
assembly no man laid hands on Christ, and none of the 
dealers in cattle or of the money-changers repelled him by 
violence, we may conclude that they were all stunned and 
struck with astonishment by the hand of God. And, there- 
fore, if they had not been utterly blinded, this would have 
been a sufficiently evident miracle, that one man against a 

1 " Quel signe, ou, miracle?" — "What sign? or, What miracle?" 


great multitude, an unarmed man against strong men, an 
unknown man against so great rulers, attempted so great an 
achievement. For since they were far stronger, why did 
they not oppose him, but because their hands were loosened 
and — as it were — broken ? 

Yet they have some ground for putting the question ; for 
it does not belong to every man to change suddenly, if any 
thing is faulty or displeases him in the temple of God. All 
are, indeed, at liberty to condemn corruptions ; but if a pri- 
vate man put forth his hand to remove them, he will be 
accused of rashness. As the custom of selling in the temple 
had been generally received, Christ attempted what was 
new and uncommon ; and therefore they properly call on 
him to prove that he was sent by God ; for they found their 
argument on this principle, that in public administration it 
is not lawful to make any change without an undoubted 
calling and command of God. But they erred on another 
point, by refusing to admit the calling of Christ, unless he had 
performed a miracle ; for it was not an invariable rule that 
the Prophets and other ministers of God should perform 
miracles ; and God did not limit himself to this necessity. 
They do wrong, therefore, in laying down a law to God by 
demanding a sign. When the Evangelist says that the 
Jews asked him, he unquestionably means by that term the 
multitude who were standing there, and, as it were, the 
whole body of the Church ; as if he had said, that it was not 
the speech of one or two persons, but of the people. 

19. Destroy this temple. This is an allegorical mode of 
expression ; and Christ intentionally spoke with that degree 
of obscurity, because he reckoned them unworthy of a direct 
reply ; as he elsewhere declares that he speaks to them in par- 
ables, because they are unable to comprehend the mysteries 
of the heavenly kingdom, (Matth. xiii. 13.) But first he 
refuses to them the sign which they demanded, either because 
it would have been of no advantage, or because he knew 
that it was not the proper time. Some compliances he occa- 
sionally made even with their unreasonable requests, and 
there must have been a strong reason why he now refused. 


Yet that they may not seize on this as a pretence for excus- 
ing themselves, he declares that his power will be approved 
and confirmed by a sign of no ordinary value ; for no greater 
approbation of the divine power in Christ could be desired 
than his resurrection from the dead. But he conveys this 
information figuratively, because he does not reckon them 
worthy of an explicit promise. In short, he treats unbe- 
lievers as they deserve, and at the same time protects himself 
against all contempt. It was not yet made evident, indeed, 
that they were obstinate, but Christ knew well what was 
the state of their feelings. 

But it may be asked, since he performed so many miracles, 
and of various kinds, why does he now mention but one ? 
I answer, he said nothing about all the other miracles, First, 
because his resurrection alone was sufficient to shut their 
mouth : Secondly, he was unwilling to expose the power of 
God to their ridicule ; for even respecting the glory of his 
resurrection he spoke allegorically : Thirdly, I say that he 
produced what was appropriate to the case in hand ; for, by 
these words, he shows that all authority over the Temple 
belongs to him, since his power is so great in building the 
true Temple of God. 

This temple. Though he uses the word temple in accom- 
modation to the present occurrence, yet the body of Christ 
is justly and appropriately called a temple. The body of 
each of us is called a tabernacle, (2 Cor. v. 4 ; 2 Pet. i. 
13,) because the soul dwells in it ; but the body of Christ 
was the abode of his Divinity. For we know that the Son 
of God clothed himself with our nature in such a manner 
that the eternal majesty of God dwelt in the flesh which he 
assumed, as in his sanctuary. 

The argument of Nestorius, who abused this passage to 
prove that it is not one and the same Christ Avho is God and 
man, may be easily refuted. He reasoned thus : the Son of 
God dwelt in the flesh, as in a temple; therefore the natures 
are distinct, so that the same person was not God and man. 
But this argument might be applied to men ; for it will fol- 
low that it is not one man whose soul dwells in the body as 
in a tabernacle ; and, therefore, it is folly to torture this form 



of expression for the purpose of taking away the unity of 
Person in Christ. It ought to be observed, that our bodies 
also are called temples of God, (1 Cor. iii. 16, and vi. 19 ; 2 
Cor. vi. 16,) but it is in a different sense, namely, because 
God dwells in us by the power and grace of his Spirit ; but 
in Christ the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, so that 
he is truly God manifested in flesh, (1 Tim. iii. 16.) 

I will raise it up again. Here Christ claims for himself the 
glory of his resurrection, though, in many passages of Scrip- 
ture, it is declared to be the work of God the Father. But 
these two statements perfectly agree with each other ; for, in 
order to give us exalted conceptions of the power of God, 
Scripture expressly ascribes to the Father that he raised up 
his Son from the dead ; but here, Christ in a special manner 
asserts his own Divinity. And Paul reconciles both. If 
the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in 
you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken 
your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you, (Rom. 
viii. 11.) While he makes the Spirit the Author of the resur- 
rection, he calls Him indiscriminately sometimes the Spirit of 
Christ, and sometimes the Spirit of the Father. 

20. Forty and six years. The computation of Daniel 
agrees with this passage, (Dan. ix. 25 ;) for he reckons seven 
weeks, which make Forty-nine years ; but, before the last of 
these weeks had ended, the temple was finished. The time 
described in the history of Ezra is much shorter ; but, though 
it has some appearance of contradiction, it is not at all at vari- 
ance with the words of the Prophet. For, when the sanc- 
tuary had been reared, before the building of the temple was 
completed, they began to offer sacrifices. The work was 
afterwards stopped for a long time through the indolence of 
the people, as plainly appears from the complaints of the Pro- 
phet Haggai, (i. 4 ;) for he severely reproves the Jews for 
being too earnestly engaged in building their private dwell- 
ings, while they left the Temple of God in an unfinished 

But why does he mention that temple which had been de- 
stroyed by Herod about forty years before that time ? For 


the temple which they had at that time, though it had been 
built with great magnificence and at a vast expense, had been 
completed by Herod, contrary to the expectation of men, as 
is related by Josephus, (Ant. Book xv. chap, xi.) I think 
it probable that this new building of the temple was reckoned 
as if the ancient temple had always remained in its original 
condition, that it might be regarded with greater veneration ; 
and that they spoke in the usual and ordinary manner, that 
their fathers, with the greatest difficulty, had scarcely built 
the temple in Forty-six years. 

This reply shows plainly enough what was their intention 
in asking a sign ; for if they had been ready to obey, with 
reverence, a Prophet sent by God, they would not have so 
disdainfully rejected what he had said to them about the con- 
firmation of his office. They wish to have some testimony 
of divine power, and yet they receive nothing which does 
not correspond to the feeble capacity of man. Thus the 
Papists in the present day demand miracles, not that they 
would give way to the power of God, (for it is a settled 
principle with them to prefer men to God, and not to move 
a hair's breadth from what they have received by custom and 
usage ;) but that they may not appear to have no reason for 
rebelling against God, they hold out this excuse as a cloak 
for their obstinacy. In such a manner do the minds of un- 
believers storm in them with blind impetuosity, that they 
desire to have the hand of God exhibited to them, and yet 
do not wish that it should be divine. 

When therefore he was risen from the dead. This recollec- 
tion was similar to the former, which the Evangelist lately 
mentioned, (ver. 17.) The Evangelist did not understand 
Christ when he said this ; but the doctrine, which appeared 
to have been useless, and to have vanished into air, after- 
wards produced fruit in its own time. Although, therefore, 
many of the actions and sayings of our Lord are obscure for 
a time, we must not give them up in despair, or despise that 
which we do not all at once understand. 1 We ought to 

1 "line faut pas pourtant quitter la tout par desespoir, ne mespribc 
ce que nous n'entendons pas tout incontinent." 


observe the connection of the words, that they believed the 
Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken ; for the Evan- 
gelist means that, by comparing the Scripture with the word 
of Christ, they were aided in making progress in faith. 

23. And when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, many believed in 
his name, beholding the signs which he performed. 24. But Jesus 
himself did not confide in them, because he knew them all, 1 25. And 
needed not that any should testify of man ; for he knew what was in man. 

23. Many believed. The Evangelist appropriately con- 
nects this narrative with the former. Christ had not given 
such a sign as the Jews demanded ; and now, when he 
produced no good effect on them by many miracles — except 
that they entertained a cold faith, which was only the sha- 
dow of faith — this event sufficiently proves that they did not 
deserve that he should comply with their wishes. It was, 
indeed, some fruit of the signs, that many believed in Christ, 
and in his name, so as to profess that they wished to fol- 
low his doctrine ; for name is here put for authority. This 
appearance of faith, which hitherto was fruitless, might 
ultimately be changed into true faith, and might be a useful 
preparation for celebrating the name of Christ among others; 
and yet what we have said is true, that they were far from 
having proper feelings, so as to profit by the Avorks of God, 
as they ought to have done. 

Yet this was not a pretended faith by which they wished 
to gain reputation among men ; for they were convinced 
that Christ was some great Prophet, and perhaps they even 
ascribed to him the honour of being the Messiah, of whom 
there was at that time a strong and general expectation. 
But as they did not understand the peculiar office of the 
Messiah, their faith was absurd, because it was exclusively 
directed to the world and earthly things. It was also a cold 
belief, and unaccompanied by the true feelings of the heart. 
For hypocrites assent to the Gospel, not that they may 
devote themselves in obedience to Christ, nor that with 
sincere piety they may follow Christ when he calls them, 

* " II les cojnioissoient tous.*' 


but because they do not venture to reject entirely the truth 
which they have known, and especially when they can find 
no reason for opposing it. For as they do not voluntarily, 
or of their own accord, make war with God, so when they 
perceive that his doctrine is opposed to their flesh and to 
their perverse desires, they are immediately offended, or at 
least withdraw from the faith which they had already em- 

When the Evangelist says, therefore, that those men be- 
lieved, I do not understand that they counterfeited a faith 
which did not exist, but that they were in some way con- 
strained to enrol themselves as the followers of Christ ; and 
yet it appears that their faith was not true and genuine, 
because Christ excludes them from the number of those on 
whose sentiments reliance might be placed. Besides, that 
faith depended solely on miracles, and had no root in the 
Gospel, and therefore could not be steady or permanent. 
Miracles do indeed assist the children of God in arriving at 
the truth ; but it does not amount to actual believing, when 
they admire the power of God so as merely to believe that it 
is true, but not to subject themselves wholly to it. And, 
therefore, when we speak generally about faith, let us know 
that there is a kind of faith which is perceived by the under- 
standing only, and afterwards quickly disappears, because it 
is not fixed in the heart ; and that is the faith which James 
calls dead ; but true faith always depends on the Spirit of 
regeneration, (James ii. 17, 20, 26.) Observe, that all do not 
derive equal profit from the works of God ; for some are led 
by them to God, and others are only driven by a blind 
impulse, so that, while they perceive indeed the power of 
God, still they do not cease to wander in their own imagi- 

24. But Christ did not rely on them. Those who explain 
the meaning to be, that Christ was on his guard against 
thern, because he knew that they were not upright and faith- 
ful, do not appear to me to express sufficiently well the 
meaning of the Evangelist. Still less do I agree with what 
Augustine says about recent converts. The Evangelist 


rather means, in my opinion, that Christ did not reckon 
them to be genuine disciples, but despised them as volatile 
and unsteady. It is a passage which ought to be carefully 
observed, that not all who profess to be Christ's followers 
are such in his estimation. But we ought also to add the 
reason which immediately follows : 

Because he knew them all. Nothing is more dangerous than 
hypocrisy, for this reason among others, that it is an exceed- 
ingly common fault. There is scarcely any man who is not 
pleased with himself; and while we deceive ourselves by 
empty flatteries, we imagine that God is blind like ourselves. 
But here we are reminded how widely his judgment differs 
from ours ; for he sees clearly those things which we cannot 
perceive, because they are concealed by some disguise ; and 
he estimates according to their hidden source, that is, accord- 
ing to the most secret feeling of the heart, those things which 
dazzle our eyes by false lustre. This is Avhat Solomon says, 
that God weighs in his balance the hearts of men, while they 
flatter themselves in their ways, (Pro v. xxi. 2.) Let us remem- 
ber, therefore, that none are the true disciples of Christ but 
those whom He approves, because in such a matter He alone 
is competent to decide and to judge. 

A question now arises : when the Evangelist says that 
Christ knew them all, does he mean those only of whom he 
had lately spoken, or does the expression refer to the whole 
human race ? Some extend it to the universal nature of 
man, and think that the whole world is here condemned for 
wicked and perfidious hypocrisy. And, certainly, it is a true 
statement, that Christ can find in men no reason why he 
should deign to place them in the number of his followers ; 
but I do not see that this agrees with the context, and there- 
fore I limit it to those who had been formerly mentioned. 

25. For he knew what was in man. As it might be doubted 
whence Christ obtained this knowledge, the Evangelist an- 
ticipates this question, and replies that Christ perceived 
every thing in men that is concealed from our view, so that 
he could on his own authority make a distinction among 
men. Christ, therefore, who knows the hearts, had no need 


of any one to inform him what sort of men they were. He 
knew them to have such a disposition and such feelings, that 
he justly regarded them as persons who did not belong to 

The question put by some — whether we too are authorized 
by the example of Christ to hold those persons as suspected 
who have not given us proof of their sincerity — has nothing 
to do with the present passage. There is a wide difference 
between him and us ; for Christ knew the very roots of the 
trees, but, except from the fruits which appear outwardly, 
we cannot discover what is the nature of any one tree. Be- 
sides, as Paul tells us, that charity is not suspicious, (1 Cor. 
xiii. 5,) we have no right to entertain unfavourable suspicions 
about men who are unknown to us. But, that we may not 
always be deceived by hypocrites, and that the Church may 
not be too much exposed to their wicked impostures, it be- 
longs to Christ to impart to us the Spirit of discretion. 


1, Now there was a man of the Pharisees, called Nicodemus, a ruler 
among the Jews. 2. He came to Jesus by night, and said to him, 
Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can 
do these signs which thou doest, unless God be with him. 3. Jesus an- 
swered and said to him, Verily, verily, I say to thee, Unless a man be 
born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4. Nicodemus saith to 
him, How can a man be born when he is old ? Can he enter again into 
his mother's womb and be born ? 5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I 
say to thee, Unless a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot 
enter into the kingdom of God. 6. That which is born of flesh is flesh ; 
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 

1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees. In the person 
of Nicodemus the Evangelist now exhibits to our view how 
vain and fleeting was the faith of those who, having been 
excited by miracles, suddenly professed to be the disciples 
of Christ. For since this man was of the order of the Pharisees, 
and held the rank of a ruler in his nation, he must ave been 
far more excellent than others. The common people, for the 


most part, are light and unsteady ; but who would not have 
thought that he who had learning and experience was also 
a wise and prudent man ? Yet from Christ's reply it is evi- 
dent, that nothing was farther from his design in coming 
than a desire to learn the first principles of religion. If he 
who was a ruler among men is less than a child, what ought 
we to think of the multitude at large ? Now though the 
design of the Evangelist was, to exhibit, as in a mirror, how 
few there were in Jerusalem who were properly disposed to 
receive the Gospel, yet, for other reasons, this narrative is 
highly useful to us ; and especially because it instructs us 
concerning the depraved nature of mankind, what is the pro- 
per entrance into the school of Christ, and what must be the 
commencement of our training to make progress in the hea- 
venly doctrine. For the sum of Christ's discourse is, that, 
in order that we may be his true disciples, we must become 
new men. But, before proceeding farther, we must ascertain 
from the circumstances which are here detailed by the Evan- 
gelist, what were the obstacles which prevented Nicodemus 
from giving himself unreservedly to Christ. 

Of the Pharisees. This designation was, no doubt, regarded 
by his countrymen as honourable to Nicodemus ; but it is not 
for the sake of honour that it is given to him by the Evangelist, 
who, on the contrary, draws our attention to it as having pre- 
vented him from coming freely and cheerfully to Christ. 
Hence we are reminded that they w r ho occupy a lofty station 
in the world are, for the most part, entangled by very dan- 
gerous snares ; nay, we see many of them held so firmly bound, 
that not even the slightest wish or prayer arises from them 
towards heaven throughout their whole life. Why they were 
called Pharisees we have elsewhere explained ; 1 for they 
boasted of being the only expounders of the Law, as if they were 
in possession of the marrow and hidden meaning of Scripture ; 

i Our Author's views of the etymology of the term are ftilly stated and 
examined, Harmony, vol. i. p. 281 ; but it cannot be supposed that this 
Commentary on the Gospel by John, which appeared in the year 1553, 
makes references to the Harmony, which did not appear till 1555. The 
priority of the date (1548) of the Commentary on the Epistle to the Philip- 
pians more naturally sends us to consult that passage, in which Paul says 
that he was a Pharisee, (8, 5.) — Ed. 


and for that reason they called themselves D^VlS* (Perushm.) 
Though the Essenes led a more austere life, which gained 
them a high reputation for holiness ; yet because, like hermits, 
they forsook the ordinary life and custom of men, the sect of 
the Pharisees was on that account held in higher estimation. 
Besides, the Evangelist mentions not only that Nicodemus was 
of the order of the Pharisees, but that he was one of the rulers 
of his nation. 

2. He came to Jesus by night. From the circumstance of 
his coming by night we infer that his timidity was excessive; 
for his eyes were dazzled, as it were, by the splendour of his own 
greatness and reputation. 1 Perhaps too he was hindered by 
shame, for ambitious men think that their reputation is utterly 
ruined, if they have once descended from the dignity of 
teachers to the rank of scholars ; and he was unquestionably 
puffed up with a foolish opinion of his knowledge. In short, 
as he had a high opinion of himself, he was unwilling to lose 
any part of his elevation. And yet there appears in him 
some seed of piety ; for hearing that a Prophet of God had 
appeared, he does not despise or spurn the doctrine which 
has been brought from heaven, and is moved by some 
desire to obtain it, — a desire which sprung from nothing else 
than fear and reverence for God. Many are tickled by an 
idle curiosity to inquire eagerly about any thing that is new, 
but there is no reason to doubt that it was religious principle 
and conscientious feeling that excited in Nicodemus the 
desire to gain a more intimate knowledge of the doctrine of 
Christ. And although that seed remained long concealed 
and apparently dead, yet after the death of Christ it yielded 
fruit, such as no man would ever have expected, (John xix. 

Rabbi, ice know. The meaning of these words is, " Master, 
ice knoic that thou art come to be a teacher" But as learned 
men, at that time, were generally called Masters, Nicodemus 
first salutes Christ according to custom, and gives him the 
ordinary designation, Rabbi, (which means Master, 2 ) and after- 

1 " De sa grandeur et reputation." 

2 ." Qui signifie Maistre." 

VOL. I. G 


wards declares that he was sent by God to perforin the office 
of a Master. And on this principle depends all the authority 
of the teachers in the Church ; for as it is only from the word 
of God that we must learn wisdom, we ought not to listen to 
any other persons than those by whose mouth God speaks. 
And it ought to be observed, that though religion was greatly 
corrupted and almost destroyed among the Jews, still they 
always held this principle, that no man was a lawful teacher, 
unless he had been sent by God. But as there are none who 
more haughtily and more daringly boast of having been sent 
by God than the false prophets do, we need discernment in 
this case for trying the spirits. Accordingly Nicodemus adds : 
For no man can do the siyns which thou doest, unless God be 
with him. It is evident, he says, that Christ has been sent 
by God, because God displays his power in him so illustriously, 
that it cannot be denied that God is with him. He takes for 
granted that God is not accustomed to work but by his 
ministers, so as to seal the office which he has intrusted to 
them. And he had good grounds for thinking so, because 
God always intended that miracles should be seals of his 
doctrine. Justly therefore does he make God the sole Author 
of miracles, when he says that no man can do these signs, unless 
God be with him ; for what he says amounts to a declaration 
that miracles are not performed by the arm of man, but that 
the power of God reigns, and is illustriously displayed in them. 
In a word, as miracles have a twofold advantage, to prepare 
the mind for faith, and, when it has been formed by the word, 
to confirm it still more, Nicodemus had profited aright in the 
former part, because by miracles he recognizes Christ as a 
true prophet of God. 

Yet his argument appears not to be conclusive ; for since 
the false prophets deceive the ignorant by their impostures 
as fully as if they had proved by true signs that they are 
the ministers of God, what difference will there be between 
truth and falsehood, if faith depends on miracles? Nay, 
Moses expressly says that God employs this method to try if 
%oe love him, (Deut. xiii. 3.) We know, also, the warning of 
Christ, (Matth. xxiv. 14,) and of Paul, (2 Thess. ii. 9,) that 
believers ought to beware of lying signs, by which Anti- 


christ dazzles the eyes of many. I answer, God may justly 
permit this to be done, that those who deserve it may be 
deceived by the enchantments of Satan. But I say that 
this does not hinder the elect from perceiving in miracles 
the power of God, which is to them an undoubted confirma- 
tion of true and sound doctrine. Thus, Paul boasts that his 
apostleship was confirmed by signs, and wonders, and mighty 
deeds, Qi Cor. xii. 12.) To whatever extent Satan may, like 
an ape, counterfeit the works of God in the dark, yet when 
the eyes are opened and the light of spiritual wisdom shines, 
miracles are a sufficiently powerful attestation of the presence 
of God, as Nicodemus here declares it to be. 

3. Verily, verily, I say to thee. The word Verily (a/x^) is 
twice repeated, and this is done for the purpose of arousing 
him to more earnest attention. For when he was about to 
speak of the most important and weighty of all subjects, he 
found it necessary to awaken the attention of Nicodemus, 
who might otherwise have passed by this whole discourse in 
a light or careless manner. 1 Such, then, is the design of the 
double affirmation. 

Though this discourse appears to be far-fetched and almost 
inappropriate, yet it was with the utmost propriety that 
Christ opened his discourse in this manner. For as it is 
useless to sow seed in a field which has not been prepared 
by the labours of the husbandman, so it is to no purpose to 
scatter the doctrine of the Gospel, if the mind has not been 
previously subdued and duly prepared for docility and obe- 
dience. Christ saw that the mind of Nicodemus was filled 
with many thorns, choked by many noxious herbs, so that 
there was scarcely any room for spiritual doctrine. This 
exhortation, therefore, resembled a ploughing to purify him, 
that nothing might prevent him from profiting by the doc- 
trine. Let us, therefore, remember that this was spoken 
to one individual, in such a manner that the Son of God 
addresses all of us daily in the same language. For which 

1 " L'oyant settlement eomme on pensant ailleurs, et sans en tenir grand 
conte :" — " merely listening to it as if he were thinking of something else, 
and without caring much about it." 


of us will say that he is so free from sinful affections that he 
does not need such a purification ? If, therefore, we wish to 
make good and useful progress in the school of Christ, let 
us learn to begin at this point. 

Unless a man be bom again. That is, " So long as thou 
art destitute of that which is of the highest importance in 
the kingdom of God, I care little about your calling me 
Master ; for the first entrance into the kingdom of God is, to 
become a new man." But as this is a remarkable passage, 
it will be proper to survey every part of it minutely. 

To see the kingdom of God is of the same meaning as to 
enter into the kingdom of God, as we shall immediately 
perceive from the context. But they are mistaken who 
suppose that the kingdom of God means Heaven ; for it rather 
means the spiritual life, which is begun by faith in this world, 
and gradually increases every day according to the continued 
progress of faith. So the meaning is, that no man can be 
truly united to the Church, so as to be reckoned among the 
children of God, until he has been previously renewed. This 
expression shows briefly what is the beginning of Chris- 
tianity, and at the same time teaches us, that we are bom 
exiles and utterly alienated from the kingdom of God, and that 
there is a perpetual state of variance between God and us, 
until he makes us altogether different by our being horn 
again ; for the statement is general, and comprehends the 
whole human race. If Christ had said to one person, or to 
a few individuals, that they could not enter into heaven, unless 
they had been previously born again, we might have supposed 
that it was only certain characters that were pointed out, 
but he speaks of all without exception ; for the language is 
unlimited, and is of the same import with such universal 
terms as these : Wliosoever shall not be born again cannot enter 
into the kingdom of God. 

By the phrase born again is expressed not the correction of 
one part, but the renovation of the whole nature. Hence it 
follows, that there is nothing in us that is not sinful ; for if 
reformation is necessary in the whole and in each part, cor- 
ruption must have been spread throughout. On this point 
we shall soon have occasion to speak more largely. Erasmus, 


adopting the opinion of Cyril, has improperly translated the 
adverb &vu6sv,Jrom above, and renders the clause thus : unless 
a man be bom from above. The Greek word, I own, is 
ambiguous ; but we know that Christ conversed with Nico- 
demus in the Hebrew language. There would then have 
been no room for the ambiguity which occasioned the 
mistake of Nicodemus, and led him into childish scruples 
about a second birth of the flesh. He therefore understood 
Christ to have said nothing else than that a man must be bom 
again, before he is admitted into the kingdom of God. 

4. How can a man be born xchen he is old'? Though the 
form of expression which Christ employed was not contained 
in the Law and the Prophets, yet as renewal is frecpaently 
mentioned in Scripture, and is one of the first principles of 
faith, it is evident how imperfectly skilled the Scribes at that 
time were in the reading of the Scriptures. It certainly was 
not one man only who was to blame for not knowing what 
was meant by the grace of regeneration ; but as almost all 
devoted their attention to useless subtleties, what was of 
chief importance in the doctrine of piety was disregarded. 
Popery exhibits to us, at the present day, an instance of the 
same kind in her Theologians. For while they weary out 
their whole life with profound speculations, as to all that 
strictly relates to the worship of God, to the confident hope 
of our salvation, or to the exercises of religion, they know 
no more on these subjects than a cobbler or a cowherd knows 
about the course of the stars ; and, what is more, taking- 
delight in foreign mysteries, they openly despise the true 
doctrine of Scripture as unworthy of the elevated rank which 
belongs to them as teachers. We need not wonder, there- 
fore, to find here that Nicodemus stumbles at a straw ; for 
it is a just vengeance of God, that they who think themselves 
the highest and most excellent teachers, and in whose estima- 
tion the ordinary simplicity of doctrine is vile and despicable, 
stand amazed at small matters. 

5. Unless a, man be born of water. This passage has been 
explained in various ways. Some have thought that the 


two parts of regeneration are distinctly pointed out, and 
that by the word Water is denoted the renunciation of the 
old man, while by the Spirit they have understood the neAv 
life. Others think that there is an implied contrast, as if 
Christ intended to contrast Water and Spirit, which are pure 
and liquid elements, with the earthly and gross nature of 
man. Thus they view the language as allegorical, and sup- 
pose Christ to have taught that we ought to lay aside the 
heavy and ponderous mass of the flesh, and to become like 
water and air, that we may move upwards, or, at least, may 
not be so much weighed down to the earth. But both 
opinions appear to me to be at variance with the meaning of 

Chrysostom, with whom the greater part of expounders 
agree, makes the word Water refer to baptism. The mean- 
ing would then be, that by baptism we enter into the 
kingdom of God, because in baptism we are regenerated by 
the Spirit of God. Hence arose the belief of the absolute 
necessity of baptism, in order to the hope of eternal life. 
But though we were to admit that Christ here speaks of 
baptism, yet we ought not to press his words so closely as to 
imagine that he confines salvation to the outward sign ; but, 
on the contrary, he connects the Water with the Spirit, because 
under that visible symbol he attests and seals that newness 
of life which God alone produces in us by his Spirit. It 
is true that, by neglecting baptism, we are excluded from 
salvation ; and in this sense I acknowledge that it is neces- 
sary ; but it is absurd to speak of the hope of salvation as 
confined to the sign. So far as relates to this passage, I 
cannot bring myself to believe that Christ speaks of baptism ; 
for it would have been inapproiiriate. 

"We must always keep in remembrance the design of 
Christ, which we have already explained ; namely, that lie 
intended to exhort Nicodemus to newness of life, because he 
was not capable of receiving the Gospel, until he began to 
be a new man. It is, therefore, a simple statement, that we 
must be born again, in order that we may be the children of 
God, and that the Holy Spirit is the Author of this second 
birth. For while Nicodemus was dreaming of the regenera- 


tion {xaktyymeia) or transmigration taught by Pythagoras, 
who imagined that souls, after the death of their bodies, 
passed into other bodies, 1 Christ, in order to cure him of 
this error, added, by way of explanation, that it is not in 
a natural way that men are born a second time, and that it is 
not necessary for them to be clothed with a new body, but 
that they are born when they are renewed in mind and heart 
by the grace of the Spirit. 

Accordingly, he employed the words Spirit and inciter to 
mean the same thing, and this ought not to be regarded as a 
harsh or forced interpretation ; for it is a frequent and com- 
mon way of speaking in Scripture, when the Spirit is mentioned, 
to add the word Water or Fire, expressing his power. We 
sometimes meet with the statement, that it is Christ who 
baptizeth with the Holy Ghost and with fire, (Matth. iii. 11 ; 
Luke iii. 1G,) where Jire means nothing different from the 
Spirit, but only shows what is his efficacy in us. As to the 
word icater being placed first, it is of little consequence ; or 
rather, this mode of speaking flows more naturally than the 
other, because the metaphor is followed by a plain and direct 
statement, as if Christ had said that no man is a son of God 
until he has been renewed by water, and that this water is 
the Spirit who cleanseth us anew, and who, by spreading his 
energy over us, imparts to us the vigour of the heavenly life, 
though by nature we are utterly dry. And most properly 
does Christ, in order to reprove Nicodemus for his ignorance, 
employ a form of expression which is common in Scripture ; 
for Nicodemus ought at length to have acknowledged, that 
what Christ had said was taken from the ordinary doctrine 
of the Prophets. 

By water, therefore, is meant nothing more than the inward 
purification and invigoration which is produced by the Holy 
Spirit. Besides, it is not unusual to employ the Avord and 
instead of that is, when the latter clause is intended to ex- 
plain the former. And the view which I have taken is sup- 
ported by what follows; for when Christ immediately proceeds 
to assign the reason why we must be bom ayain, without 

1 " Qui imaginoit que lea times apres la mort de leurs corps entroyeut 
dedans des autres corps." 


mentioning the water, he shows that the newness of life which 
he requires is produced by the Spirit alone ; whence it follows, 
that water must not be separated from the Spirit. 

6. That ichich is born of the flesh. By reasoning from con- 
traries, he argues that the kingdom of God is shut against 
us, unless an entrance be opened to us by a neiv birth, 
(faXiyyiviaia.) For he takes for granted, that we cannot 
enter into the kingdom of God unless we are spiritual. But 
we bring nothing from the womb but a carnal nature. There- 
fore it follows, that we are naturally banished from the 
kingdom of God, and, having been deprived of the heavenly 
life, remain under the yoke of death. Besides, when Christ 
argues here, that men must be born again, because they are 
only flesh, he undoubtedly comprehends all mankind under 
the term flesh. By the flesh, therefore, is meant in this place 
not the body, but the soul also, and consequently every part 
of it. When the Popish divines restrict the word to that 
part which they call sensual, they do so in utter ignorance 
of its meaning; 1 for Christ must in that case have used an 
inconclusive argument, that we need a second birth, because a 
part of us is corrupt. But if the flesh is contrasted with the 
Spirit, as a corrupt thing is contrasted with what is uncor- 
rupted, a crooked thing with Avhat is straight, a polluted 
thing with what is holy, a contaminated thing with what is 
pure, we may readily conclude that the whole nature of man 
is condemned by a single word. Christ therefore declares 
that our understanding and reason is corrupted, because it is 
carnal, and that all the affections of the heart are wicked and 
reprobate, because they too are carnal. 

But here it may be objected, that since the soul is not 
begotten by human generation, we are not born of the flesh, as 
to the chief part of our nature. This led many persons to 
imagine that not only our bodies, but our souls also, descend 
to us from our parents ; for they thought it absurd that 
original sin, which has its peculiar habitation in the soul, 
should be conveyed from one man to all his posterity, unices 

1 " Monstrent bicn qn'ils n'en cntendent ricn." 


all our souls proceeded from his soul as their source. And 
certainly, at first sight, the words of Christ appear to convey 
the idea, that we are flesh, because we are born of flesh. I 
answer, so far as relates to the words of Christ, they mean 
nothing else than that we are all carnal when we are born ; 
and that as we come into this world mortal men, our nature 
relishes nothing but what is flesh. He simply distinguishes 
here between nature and the supernatural gift ; for the 
corruption of all mankind in the person of Adam alone did 
not proceed from generation, but from the appointment of 
God, who in one man had adorned us all, and who has in 
him also deprived us of his gifts. Instead of saying, there- 
fore, that each of us draws vice and corruption from his 
parents, it would be more correct to say that Ave are all alike 
corrupted in Adam alone, because immediately after his revolt 
God took away from human nature what He had bestowed 
upon it. 

Here another question arises ; for it is certain that in this 
degenerate and corrupted nature some remnant of the gifts 
of God still lingers ; and hence it follows that we are not in 
every respect corrupted. The reply is easy. The gifts 
which God hath left to us since the fall, if they are judged 
by themselves, are indeed worthy of praise ; but as the 
contagion of wickedness is spread through every part, there 
will be found in us nothing that is pure and free from every 
defilement. That we naturally possess some knowledge of 
God, that some distinction between good and evil is engraven 
on our conscience, that our faculties are sufficient for the 
maintenance of the present life, that — in short — we are in so 
many ways superior to the brute beasts, that is excellent in 
itself, so far as it proceeds from God ; but in us all these 
things are completely polluted, in the same manner as the 
wine which has been wholly infected and corrupted by the 
offensive taste of the vessel loses the pleasantness of its good 
flavour, and acquires a bitter and pernicious taste. For such 
knowledge of God as now remaius in men is nothing else than 
a frightful source of idolatry and of all superstitions ; the 
judgment exercised in choosing and distinguishing things is 
partly bliud and foolish, partly imperfect and confused ; all 


the industry that we possess flows into vanity and trifles ; 
and the will itself, with furious impetuosity, rushes headlong 
to what is evil. Thus in the whole of our nature there re- 
mains not a drop of uprightness. Hence it is evident that 
we must be formed by the second birth, that we may be 
fitted for the kingdom of God ; and the meaning of Christ's 
words is, that as a man is born only carnal from the womb 
of his mother, he must be formed anew by the Spirit, that he 
may begin to be spiritual. 

The word Spirit is used here in two senses, namely, for 
grace, and the effect of grace. For in the first place, Christ 
informs us that the Spirit of God is the only Author of a pure 
and upright nature, and afterwards he states, that we are 
spiritual, because we have been renewed by his power. 

7. Wonder not that I said to thee, You must be born again. 8. The 
wind bloweth where it pleaseth, and thou nearest its voice ; but knowest 
not whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth : so is every one that is born 
of the Spirit. 9. Nicodemus answered, and said to him, How can these 
things be? 10. Jesus answered, and said to him, Thou art a teacher of 
Israel, and knowest you not these things? 11. Verily, verily, I say to 
thee, We speak what we know, and testify what we have seen ; and you 
receive not our testimony. 12. If I have told you earthly things, and 
you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things ? 

7. Wonder not. This passage has been tortured by com- 
mentators in various ways. Some think that Christ reproves 
the gross ignorance of Nicodemus and other persons of the 
same class, by saying that it is not wonderful, if they do not 
comprehend that heavenly mystery of regeneration, since even 
in the order of nature they do not perceive the reason of 
those things which fall under the cognizance of the senses. 
Others contrive a meaning which, though ingenious, is too 
much forced : that " as the wind bloics freely, so by the regen- 
eration of the Spirit we are set at liberty, and, having been 
freed from the yoke of sin, run voluntarily to God." Equally 
removed from Christ's meaning is the exposition given by 
Augustine, that the Spirit of God exerts his power according 
to his own pleasure. A better view is given by Chrysostom 
and Cyril, who say that the comparison is taken from the 
wind, and apply it thus to the present passage : " though its 
power be felt, toe know not its source and cause.'" While I 


do not differ greatly from their opinion, I shall endeavour to 
explain the meaning of Christ with greater clearness and 

I hold by this principle, that Christ borrows a comparison 
from the order of nature. Nicodemus reckoned that what he 
had heard about regeneration and a new life was incredible, 
because the manner of this regeneration exceeded his capacity. 
To prevent him from entertaining any scruple of this sort, 
Christ shows that even in the bodily life there is displayed 
an amazing power of God, the reason of which is concealed. 
For all draw from the air their vital breath ; we perceive the 
agitation of the air, but knoic not whence it comes to us or 
whither it departs. If in this frail and transitory life God acts 
so powerfully that, we are constrained to admire his power, 
what folly is it to attempt to measure by the perception of 
our own mind his secret work in the heavenly and superna- 
tural life, so as to believe no more than what we see ? Thus 
Paul, when he breaks out into indignation against those who 
reject the doctrine of the resurrection, on the ground of its 
being impossible that the body which is now subject to putre- 
faction, after having been reduced to dust and to nothing, 
should be clothed with a blessed immortality, reproaches them 
for stupidity in not considering that a similar display of the 
power of God may be seen in a grain of wheat ; for the seed 
does not spring until it has been putrefied, (1 Cor. xv. 36, 37.) 
This is the astonishing wisdom of which David exclaims, O 
Lord, hoio manifold are thy works ! in icisdom hast thou made 
them all, (Psa. civ. 24.) They are therefore excessively 
stupid who, having been warned by the common order of 
nature, do not rise higher, so as to acknowledge that the hand 
of God is far more powerful in the spiritual kingdom of 
Christ. When Christ says to ISicodemus that he ought not 
to wonder, we must not understand it in such a manner as if 
he intended that we should despise a work of God, which is 
so illustrious, and which is worthy of the highest admiration ; 
but he means that we ought not to wonder with that kind of 
admiration which hinders our faith. For many reject as 
fabulous what they think too lofty and difficult. In a word, 
let us not doubt that by the Spirit of God we are formed 


again and made new men, though his manner of doing this 
be concealed from us. 

8. Tlie wind bloweth where it pleaseth. Not that, strictly 
speaking, there is will in the blowing, but because the agita- 
tion is free, and uncertain, and variable ; for the air is carried 
sometimes in one direction and sometimes in another. Now 
this applies to the case in hand ; for if it flowed in a uniform 
motion like water, it would be less miraculous. 

So is every one that is born of the Spirit. Christ means that 
the movement and operation of the Spirit of God is not less 
perceptible in the renewal of man than the motion of the air 
in this earthly and outward life, but that the manner of it is 
concealed ; and that, therefore, we are ungrateful and mali- 
cious, if we do not adore the inconceivable power of God in 
the heavenly life, of which we behold so striking an exhibition 
in this world, and if we ascribe to him less in restoring the 
salvation of our soul than in upholding the bodily frame. 
The application will be somewhat more evident, if you turn 
the sentence in this manner : Such is the poicer and efficacy 
of the Holy Spirit in the renewed man. 

9. IIoio can these things be ? We see what is the chief 
obstacle in the way of Nicodemus. Every thing that he 
hears appeal's monstrous, because he does not understand 
the manner of it ; so that there is no greater obstacle to us 
than our own pride ; that is, we always wish to be wise 
beyond what is proper, and therefore we reject with diaboli- 
cal pride every thing that is not explained to our reason ; as 
if it were proper to limit the infinite power of God to 
our poor capacity. We are, indeed, permitted, to a certain 
extent, to inquire into the manner and reason of the works 
of God, provided that Ave do so with sobriety and reverence ; 
but Nicodemus rejects it as a fable, on this ground, that he 
does not believe it to be possible. On this subject we shall 
treat more fully under the Sixth Chapter. 

10. TIwu art a teacher of Israel. As Christ sees that he 
is spending his time and pains to no purpose in teaching so 


proud a man, he begins to reprove him sharply. And 
certainly such persons will never make any progress, until 
the wicked confidence, with which they are puffed up, be 
removed. This is, very properly, placed first in order ; for 
in the very matter in which he chiefly plumes himself on 
his acuteness and sagacity, Christ censures his ignorance. 
He thought, that not to admit a thing to be possible would 
be considered a proof of gravity and intelligence, because 
that man is accounted foolishly credulous who assents to 
what is told him by another, before he has fully inquired 
into the reason. But still Nicodemus, with all his magisterial 
haughtiness, exposes himself to ridicule by more than childish 
hesitation about the first principles. Such hesitation, cer- 
tainly, is base and shameful. For what religion have Ave, 
what knowledge of God, what rule of living well, what hope 
of eternal life, if we do not believe that man is renewed by 
the Spirit of God ? There is an emphasis, therefore, in the 
word these ; for since Scripture frequently repeats this part 
of doctrine, it ought not to be unknown even to the lowest 
class of beginners. It is utterly beyond endurance that any 
man should be ignorant and unskilled in it, who professes to 
be a teacher in the Church of God. 

11. We speak what we know. Some refer this to Christ 
and John the Baptist ; others say that the plural number is 
used instead of the singular. For my own part, I have no 
doubt that Christ mentions himself in connection with all 
the prophets of God, and speaks generally in the person of 
all. Philosophers and other vain-glorious teachers frequently 
bring forward trifles which they have themselves invented ; 
but Christ claims it as peculiar to himself and all the servants 
of God, that they deliver no doctrine but what is certain. 
For God does not send ministers to prattle about things 
that are unknown or doubtful, but trains them in his school, 
that what they have learned from himself they may after- 
Avards deliver to others. Again, as Christ, by this testimony, 
recommends to us the certainty of his doctrine, so he enjoins 
on all his ministers a law of modesty, not to put forward 
their own dreams or conjectures — not to preach human 


inventions, which have no solidity in them — but to render a 
faithful and pure testimony to God. Let every man, there- 
fore, see what the Lord has revealed to him, that no man 
may go beyond the bounds of his faith ; and, lastly, that no 
man may allow himself to speak any thing but what he has 
heard from the Lord. It ought to be observed, likewise, 
that Christ here confirms his doctrine by an oath, that it 
may have full authority over us. 

You receive not our testimony. This is added, that the 
Gospel may lose nothing on account of the ingratitude of 
men. For since few persons are to be found who exercise 
faith in the truth of God, and since the truth is everywhere 
rejected by the world, we ought to defend it against con- 
tempt, that its majesty may not be held in less estimation, 
because the whole world despises it, and obscures it by 
impiety. Now though the meaning of the words be simple 
and one, still we must draw from this passage a twofold 
doctrine. The first is, that our faith in the Gospel may not 
be weakened, if it have few disciples on the earth ; as if 
Christ had said, Though you do not receive my doctrine, it 
remains nevertheless certain and durable ; for the unbelief 
of men will never prevent God from remaining always true. 
The other is, that they who, in the present day, disbelieve 
the Gospel, will not escape with impunity, since the truth 
of God is holy and sacred. We ought to be fortified with 
this shield, that we may persevere in obedience to the 
Gospel in opposition to the obstinacy of men. True indeed, 
we must hold by this principle, that our faith be founded on 
God. But when we have God as our security, we ought, 
like persons elevated above the heavens, boldly to tread the 
whole world under our feet, or regard it with lofty disdain, 
rather than allow the unbelief of any persons whatever to 
fill us with alarm. As to the complaint which Christ makes, 
that his testimony is not received, Ave learn from it, that the 
word of God has, in all ages, been distinguished by this 
peculiar feature, that they who believed it were few ; for 
the expression — you receive not — belongs to the greater num- 
ber, and almost to the whole body of the people. There is 


no reason, therefore, that we should now be discouraged, if 
the number of those who believe be small. 

12. If I have told you earthly things. Christ concludes 
that it ought to be laid to the charge of Nicodemus and 
others, if they do not make progress in the doctrine of the 
Gospel ; for he shows that the blame does not lie with him, that 
all are not properly instructed, since he comes down even to 
the earth, that he may raise us to heaven. It is too common a 
fault that men desire to be taught in an ingenious and witty 
style. Hence, the greater part of men are so delighted with 
lofty and abstruse speculations. Hence, too, many hold the 
Gospel in less estimation, because they do not find in it 
high-sounding words to fill their ears, and on this account 
do not deign to bestow their attention on a doctrine so low 
and mean. But it shows an extraordinary degree of wicked- 
ness, that we yield less reverence to God speaking to us, 
because he condescends to our ignorance ; and, therefore, 
when God prattles to us in Scripture in a rough and popular 
style, let us know that this is done on account of the love 
which he bears to us. 1 Whoever exclaims that he is offended 
by such meanness of language, or pleads it as an excuse for 
not subjecting himself to the word of God, speaks falsely ; 
for he who cannot endure to embrace God, when he ap- 
proaches to him, will still less fly to meet him above the 

Earthly tilings. Some explain this to mean the elements 
of spiritual doctrine ; for self-denial may be said to be the 
commencement of piety. But I rather agree with those who 
refer it to the form of instruction ; for, though the whole of 
Christ's discourse was heavenly, yet he spoke in a manner so 
familiar, that the style itself had some appearance of being 
earthly. Besides, these words must not be viewed as refer- 
ring exclusively to a single sermon ; for Christ's ordinary 
method of teaching — that is, a popular simplicity of style — is 
here contrasted with the pompous and high-sounding phrases 
to which ambitious men are too strongly addicted. 

: " Pour l'amour de nous." 


13. And l no one hath ascended to heaven but he who came down 
from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. 14. And as Moses lifted 
up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up ; 
15. That whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but have eternal 
life. 1G. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten 
Son ; that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have 
eternal life. 17. For God hath not sent his Son into the world to con- 
demn the world, but that the world may be saved by him. 18. He who 
believeth in him is not condemned ; but he who believeth not is con- 
demned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only- 
begotten Son of God. 

13. No one hath ascended to heaven. He again exhorts 
Nicodeuius not to trust to himself and his own sagacity, 
because no mortal man can, by his own unaided powers, enter 
into heaven, but only he who goes thither under the guidance 
of the Son of God. For to ascend to heaven means here, " to 
have a pure knowledge of the mysteries of God, and the 
light of spiritual understanding." For Christ gives here the 
same instruction which is given by Paul, when he declares 
that the sensual man does not comprehend the things which are 
of God, (1 Cor. ii. 10;) and, therefore, he excludes from di- 
vine things all the acuteness of the human understanding, 
for it is far below God. 

But we must attend to the words, that Christ alone, who 
is heavenly, ascends to heaven, but that the entrance is closed 
against all others. For, in the former clause, he humbles us, 
when he excludes the whole world from heaven. Paul enjoins 
those ivho are desirous to he wise ivith God to befools with them- 
selves, (1 Cor. iii. 18.) There is nothing which we do with 
greater reluctance. For this purpose we ought to remember, 
that all our senses fail and give way when we come to God ; 
but, after having shut us out from heaven, Christ quickly 
proposes a remedy, when he adds, that what was denied to 
all others is granted to the Son of God. And this too is the 
reason why he calls himself the Son of man, that we may not 
doubt that we have an entrance into heaven in common with 
him who clothed himself with our flesh, that he might make 
us partakers of all blessings. Since, therefore, he is the 
Father's only Counsellor, (Isa. ix. 6,) he admits us into those 
secrets which otherwise would have remained in concealment. 

1 "Car personnc n'est monte ;" — " For no one hath ascended. 1 " 


Who is in heaven. It may be thought absurd to say that 
he is in heaven, while he still dwells ou the earth. If it be 
replied, that this is true in regard to his Divine nature, the 
mode of expression means something else, namely, that while 
he was man, he w r as in heaven. It might be said that no 
mention is here made of any place, but that Christ is only 
distinguished from others, in regard to his condition, because 
he is the heir of the kingdom of God, from which the whole 
human race is banished ; but, as it very frequently happens, 
on account of the unity of the Person of Christ, that what 
properly belongs to one nature is applied to another, we 
ought not to seek any other solution. Christ, therefore, who 
is in heaven, hath clothed himself with our flesh, that, by 
stretching out his brotherly hand to us, he may raise us to 
heaven along with him. 

14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent. He explains more 
clearly why he said that it is he alone to whom heaven is 
opened ; namely, that he brings to heaven all who are only 
willing to follow him as their guide ; for he testifies that he 
will be openly and publicly manifested to all, that he may 
diffuse his power over men of every class. 1 To be lifted up 
means to be placed in a lofty and elevated situation, so as to 
be exhibited to the view of all. This was done by the 
preaching of the Gospel; for the explanation of it which 
some give, as referring to the cross, neither agrees with the 
context nor is applicable to the present subject. The simple 
meaning of the words therefore is, that, by the preaching of 
the Gospel, Christ was to be raised on high, like a standard 
to which the eyes of all would be directed, as Isaiah had fore- 
told, (Isa. ii. 2.) As a type of this lifting up, he refers to 
the brazen serpent, which was erected by Moses, the sight of 
which was a salutary remedy to those who had been wounded 
by the deadly bite of serpents. The history of that trans- 
action is well known, and is detailed in Numbers xxi. 9. 
Christ introduces it in this passage, in order to show T that he 
must be placed before the eyes of all by the doctrine of the 

1 " Sur toutes manieres de gens." 


Gospel, that all who look at him by faith may obtain salva- 
tion. Hence it ought to be inferred that Christ is clearly 
exhibited to us in the Gospel, in order that no man may 
complain of obscurity ; and that this manifestation is com- 
mon to all, and that faith has its own look, by which it per- 
ceives him as present ; as Paul tells us that a lively portrait 
of Christ with his cross is exhibited, when he is truly preached, 
(Gal. iii. 1.) 

The metaphor is not inappropriate or far-fetched. As it 
was only the outward appearance of a serpent, but contained 
nothing within that was pestilential or venomous, so Christ 
clothed himself with the form of sinful flesh, which yet was 
pure and free from all sin, that he might cure in us the 
deadly wound of sin. It was not in vain that, when the 
Jews were wounded by serpents, the Lord formerly prepared 
this kind of antidote ; and it tended to confirm the discourse 
which Christ delivered. For when he saw that he was 
despised as a mean and unknown person, he could produce 
nothing more appropriate than the lifting up of the serpent, to 
tell them, that they ought not to think it strange, if, con- 
trary to the expectation of men, he were lifted up on high 
from the very lowest condition, because this had already 
been shadowed out under the Law by the type of the serpent. 

A question now arises : Does Christ compare himself to 
the serpent, because there is some resemblance ; or, does he 
pronounce it to have been a sacrament, as the Manna was ? 
For though the Manna was bodily food, intended for present 
use, yet Paul testifies that it was a spiritual mystery, (1 Cor. 
x. 3.) I am led to think that this was also the case with 
the brazen serpent, both by this passage, and the fact of its 
being preserved for the future, until the superstition of the 
people had converted it into an idol, (2 Kings xviii. 4.) If 
any one form a different opinion, I do not debate the point 
with him. 

16. For God so loved the icorld. Christ opens up the first 
cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he 
does so, that no doubt may remain ; for our minds cannot 
find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of 


God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be 
sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence 
Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Saviour. 
Both points are distinctly stated to us : namely, that faith 
in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, 
because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and 
wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought 
to be carefully observed ; for such is the wicked ambition 
which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates 
to the origin of our salvation, we quickly form diabolical 
imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we ima- 
gine that God is reconciled to us, because he has reckoned 
us worthy that he should look upon us. But Scripture 
everywhere extols his pure and unmingled mercy, which sets 
aside all merits. 

And the words of Christ mean nothing else, when he 
declares the cause to be in the love of God. For if we wish 
to ascend higher, the Spirit shuts the door by the mouth of 
Paul, Avhen he informs us that this love was founded on the 
purpose of his will, (Eph. i. 5.) And, indeed, it is very 
evident that Christ spoke in this manner, in order to draw 
away men from the contemplation of themselves to look at 
the mercy of God alone. Nor does he say that God was 
moved to deliver us, because he perceived in us something 
that was worthy of so excellent a blessing, but ascribes the 
glory of our deliverance entirely to his love. And this is still 
more clear from what follows ; for he adds, that God gave 
his Son to men, that they may not perish. Hence it follows 
that, until Christ bestow his aid in rescuing the lost, all are 
destined to eternal destruction. This is also demonstrated 
by Paul from a consideration of the time ; for he loved us, 
while we were still enemies by sin, (Rom. v. 8, 10.) And, 
indeed, where sin reigns, we shall find nothing but the wrath 
of God, which draws death along with it. It is mercy, 
therefore, that reconciles us to God, that he may likewise 
restore us to life. 

This mode of expression, however, may appear to be at 
variance with many passages of Scripture, which lay in 
Christ the first foundation of the love of God to us, and 
show that out of him we are hated by God. But we ought 


to remember — what I have already stated — that the secret 
love with which the Heavenly Father loved us in himself is 
higher than all other causes ; but that the grace which he 
wishes to be made known to us, and by which we are 
excited to the hope of salvation, commences with the recon- 
ciliation which was procured through Christ. For since he 
necessarily hates sin, how shall we believe that we are loved 
by him, until atonement has been made for those sins on 
account of which he is justly offended at us ? Thus, the 
love of Christ must intervene for the purpose of reconciling 
God to us, before we have any experience of his fatherly 
kindness. But as we are first informed that God, because 
he loved us, gave his Son to die for us, so it is immediately 
added, that it is Christ alone on whom, strictly speaking, 
faith ought to look. 

He gave, his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on 
him may not perish. This, he says, is the proper look of 
faith, to be fixed on Christ, in whom it beholds the breast of 
God filled with love : this is a firm and enduring support, to 
rely on the death of Christ as the only pledge of that love. 
The word only-begotten is emphatic, (s/juparixbv,) to magnify 
the fervour of the love of God towards us. For as men are 
ot easily convinced that God loves them, in order to remove 
11 doubt, he has expressly stated that Ave are so very dear 
to God that, on our account, he did not even spare his only- 
begotten Son. Since, therefore, God has most abundantly 
testified his love towards us, whoever is not satisfied with 
this testimony, and still remains in doubt, offers a high insult 
to Christ, as if he had been an ordinary man given up at 
random to death. But we ought rather to consider that, in 
proportion to the estimation in which God holds his only- 
begotten Son, so much the more precious did our salvation 
appear to him, for the ransom of which he chose that his 
only-begotten Son should die. To this name Christ has a 
right, because he is by nature the only Son of God ; and he 
communicates this honour to us by adoption, when we are 
ingrafted into his body. 

That whosoever believeth on him may not perish. It is a 
remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from 


everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state 
that, though we appear to have been born to death, un- 
doubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ ; 
and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which other- 
wise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal 
term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake 
of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such 
is also the import of the term World, which he formerly 
used ; for though- nothing will be found in the world that is 
worthy of the favour of God, yet he shows himself to be 
reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men with- 
out exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else 
than an entrance into life. 

Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is/ 
promised universally to all iclio believe in Christ, still faith is 
not common to all. For Christ is made known and held 
put to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose 
eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, 
too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith ; for by it we 
receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that 
is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal 
death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the 
sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing 
may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, 
therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death 
and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by 
it we obtain likewise the life of Christ. 

Still it is not yet very evident why and how faith bestows 
life upon us. Is it because Christ renews us by his Spirit, 
that the righteousness of God may live and be vigorous in 
us ; or is it because, having been cleansed by his blood, Ave 
are accounted righteous before God by a free pardon ? It is 
indeed certain, that these two things are always joined to- 
gether ; but as the certainty of salvation is the subject now 
in hand, we ought chiefly to hold by this reason, that we 
live, because God loves us freely by not imputing to us our 
sins. For this reason sacrifice is expressly mentioned, by 
which, together with sins, the curse and death are destroyed. 
I have already explained the object of these two clauses, 


which is, to inform us that in Christ we regain the posses- 
sion of life, of which we are destitute in ourselves ; for in 
this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order 
of time, goes before salvation. 

17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the 
world. It is a confirmation of the preceding statement ; for 
it was not in vain that God sent his own Son to us. He 
came not to destroy ; and therefore it follows, that it is the 
peculiar office of the Son of God, that all icho believe may- 
obtain salvation by him. There is now no reason why any 
man should be in a state of hesitation, or of distressing 
anxiety, as to the manner in which he may escape death, 
when we believe that it was the purpose of God that Christ 
should deliver us from it. The word world is again repeated, 
that no man may think himself wholly excluded, if he only 
keep the road of faith. 

The word judge {xgivw) is here put for condemn, as in 
many other passages. When he declares that he did not 
come to condemn the world, he thus points out the actual 
design of his coming ; for what need was there that Christ 
should come to destroy us who were utterly ruined ? 
We ought not, therefore, to look at any thing else in 
Christ, than that God, out of his boundless goodness, 
chose to extend his aid for saving us who were lost ; and 
whenever our sins press us — whenever Satan would drive us 
to despair — Ave ought to hold out this shield, that God is 
unwilling that we should be overwhelmed with everlasting 
destruction, because he has appointed his Son to be the sal- 
vation of the world. 

When Christ says, in other passages, that he is come to judg- 
ment, (John ix. 39 ;) when he is called a stone of offence, 
(1 Pet. ii. 7 ;) when he is said to be set for the destruction of 
many, (Luke ii. 34 :) this may be regarded as accidental, or 
as arising from a different cause ; for they w T ho reject the 
grace offered in him deserve to find him the Judge and 
Avenger of contempt so unworthy and base. A striking 
instance of this may be seen in the Gospel ; for though it is 
strictly the power of God for salvation to every one tvho be- 


iieveth, (Rom. i. 16,) the ingratitude of many causes it to 
become to them death. Both have been well expressed by 
Paul, when he boasts of having vengeance at hand, bg ivhich 
he ic ill pa nisi h all the adversaries of his doctrine, after that the 
obedience of the godly shall have been fulfilled, (2 Cor. x. 6.) 
The meaning amounts to this, that the Gospel is especially, 
and in the first instance, appointed for believers, that it may 
be salvation to them ; but that afterwards believers will not 
escape unpunished who, despising the grace of Christ, chose 
to have him as the Author of death rather than of life. 

18. He who believeth in him is not condemned. When he J 
so frequently and so earnestly repeats, that all believers are ' 
beyond danger of death, we may infer from it the great t/ - 
necessity of firm and assured confidence, that the conscience 
may not be kept perpetually in a state of trembling and 
alarm. He again declares that, when we have believed, there 
is no remaining condemnation, which he will afterwards ex- 
plain more fully in the Fifth Chapter. The present tense — 
is not condemned — is here used instead of the future tense — 
shall not be condemned — according to the custom of the He- 
brew language ; for he means that believers are safe from 
the fear of condemnation. 

But he who believeth not is condemned already. This means 
that there is no other remedy by which any human being 
cm escape death ; or, in other words, that for all who reject 
the life given to them in Christ, there remains nothing but 
death, since life consists in nothing else than in faith. The 
past tense of the verb, is condemned already, (J]bn xexgirai,) 
was used by him emphatically, Qpipccrixus,) to express more 
strongly that all unbelievers are utterly ruined. But it 
ought to be observed that Christ speaks especially of those 
whose wickedness shall be displayed in open contempt of 
the Gospel. For though it is true that there never was any 
other remedy for escaping death than that men should be- 
take themselves to Christ, yet as Christ here speaks of the 
preaching of the Gospel, which was to be spread throughout 
the whole world, he directs his discourse against those who 


deliberately and maliciously extinguish the light which God 
had kindled. 

19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world ; 
and men loved darkness rather than light ; for their works were evil. 
20. For whosoever doeth what is evil hateth the light, and cometh not to 
the light, thjit his works may not be discovered. 21. But he who doeth 
truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that 
they are done in God. 1 

19. And this is the condemnation. He meets the murmurs 
and complaints, by which wicked men are wont to censure — 
what they imagine to be — the excessive rigour of God, when 
he acts towards them with greater severity than they ex- 
pected. All think it harsh that they who do not believe in 
Christ should be devoted to destruction. That no man may 
ascribe his condemnation to Christ, he shows that every roan 
ought to impute the blame to himself. The reason is, that 
unbelief is a testimony of a bad conscience ; and hence it is 
evident that it is their own wickedness which hinders un- 
believers from approaching to Christ. Some think that he 
points out here nothing more than the mark of condemnation ; 
but, the design of Christ is, to restrain the wickedness of 
men, that they may not, according to their custom, dispute 
or argue with God, as if he treated them unjustly, when he 
punishes unbelief with eternal death. He shows that such a 
condemnation is just, and is not liable to any reproaches, not 
only because those men act wickedly, who prefer darkness to 
light, and refuse the light which is freely offered to them, but 
because that hatred of the light arises only from a mind that 
is wicked and conscious of its guilt. A beautiful appearance 
and lustre of holiness may indeed be found in many, who, 
after all, oppose the Gospel ; but, though they appear to be 
holier than the angels, there is no room to doubt that they 
are hypocrites, who reject the doctrine of Christ for no other 
reason than because they love their lurking-places by which 
their baseness may be concealed. Since, therefore, hypocrisy 
alone renders men hateful to God, all are held convicted, 
because were it not that, blinded by pride, they delight in 

1 " Faites selon Dieu;'* — " done according to God." 


their crimes, they would readily and willingly receive the 
doctrine of the Gospel. 

20. For whosoever doeth what is evil. The meaning is, that 
the light is hateful to them for no other reason than because 
they are wicked and desire to conceal their sins, as far as lies 
in their power. Hence it follows that, by rejecting the 
remedy, they may be said purposely to cherish the ground 
of their condemnation. We are greatly mistaken, therefore, 
if we suppose that they who are enraged against the Gospel 
are actuated by godly zeal, when, on the contrary, they ab- 
hor and shun the light, that they may more freely flatter 
themselves in darkness. 

21. But he who doeth truth. This appears to be an improper 
and absurd statement, unless you choose to admit that some 
are upright and true, before they have been renewed by the 
Spirit of God, which does not at all agree with the uniform 
doctrine of Scripture ; for we know that faith is the root 
from which the fruits of good works spring. To solve this 
difficulty, Augustine says, that to do truth means " to acknow- 
ledge that we are miserable and destitute of all power of 
doing good ;" and, certainly, it is a true preparation for faith, 
when a conviction of our poverty compels us to flee to the 
grace of God. But all this is widely removed from Christ's 
meaning, for he intended simply to say that those who act 
sincerely desire nothing more earnestly than light, that their 
works mag be tried; because, when such a trial has been made, 
it becomes more evident that, in the sight of God, they 
speak the truth and are free from all deceit. Now it would 
be inconclusive reasoning, were we to infer from this, that 
men have a good conscience before they have faith ; for 
Christ does not say that the elect believe, so as to deserve 
the praise of good works, but only what unbelievers would 
do, if they had not a bad conscience. 

Christ employed the word truth, because, when we are 
deceived by the outward lustre of works, we do not consider 
what is concealed within. Accordingly, he says, that men 
who are upright and free from hypocrisy willingly go into 


the presence of God, who alone is the competent Judge of 
our works. For those works are said to be done in God or 
according to God, which are approved by Him, and which are 
good according to His rule. Hence let us learn that we 
must not judge of works in any other way than by bringing 
them to the light of the Gospel, because our reason is wholly 

22. After these tilings came Jesus, and his disciples, into the land of 
Judea, and there he remained with them and baptized. 23. And John 
also was baptizing in Enon, near Salim ; because there were many waters 
there. They came therefore and were baptized. 24. For John was not 
yet cast into prison. 25. A question then arose between the disciples of 
John and the Jews about purifying. 26. And they came to John, and 
said to him, Rabbi, he who was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou 
gavest testimony, lo, he baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27. John 
answered and said, A man cannot receive any thing, unless it be given to 
him from heaven. 28. Yourselves are witnesses to me, that I said, I am 
not Christ, but was sent before him. 

22. After these things came Jesus. It is probable that 
Christ, when the feast was past, came into that part of Judea 
which was in the vicinity of the town Enon, which was 
situated in the tribe of Manasseh. The Evangelist says that 
there were many waters there, and these were not so abundant 
in Judea. Now geographers tell us, that these two towns, 
Enon and Salim, were not far from the confluence of the 
river Jordan and the brook Jabbok ; and they add that 
Scythopolis was near them. From these words, we may 
infer that John and Christ administered baptism by plung- 
ing the whole body beneath the water ; though we ought 
not to give ourselves any great uneasiness about the outward 
rite, provided that it agree with the spiritual truth, and with 
the Lord's appointment and rule. So far as we are able to 
conjecture, the vicinity of those places caused various reports 
to be circulated, and many discussions to arise, about the 
Law, about the worship of God, and about the condition of 
the Church, in consequence of two persons who administered 
baptism having arisen at the same time. For when the 
Evangelist says that Christ baptized, I refer this to the com- 
mencement of his ministry ; namely, that he then began to 
exercise publicly the office which was appointed to him by 


the Father. And though Christ did this by his disciples, 
yet he is here named as the Author of the baptism, 
without mentioning his ministers, who did nothing but in 
his name and by his command. On this subject, we shall 
have something more to say in the beginning of the next 

25. A question then arose. Not without a good reason 
does the Evangelist relate that a question arose from the 
disciples of John ; for just in proportion as they were ill- 
informed about doctrine, they are so much the more eager 
to enter into debate, as ignorance is always bold and pre- 
sumptuous. If others had attacked them, they might have 
been excused ; but Avhen they themselves, though unfit to 
maintain the contest, voluntarily provoke the Jews, it is a 
rash and foolish proceeding. Now the words mean, that 
" the question was raised by them ;" and not only were they 
to blame for taking up a matter which they did not under- 
stand, and speaking about it rashly and beyond the measure 
of their knowledge ; but another fault — not less than the 
former — was, that they did not so much intend to maintain 
the lawfulness of Baptism as to defend the cause of their 
master, that his authority might remain unimpaired. In 
both respects, they deserved reproof, because, not under- 
standing what was the real nature of Baptism, they expose 
the holy ordinance of God to ridicule, and because, by sinful 
ambition, they undertake to defend the cause of their master 
against Christ. 

It is evident, therefore, that they were astonished and 
confounded by a single word, when it Avas represented to 
them that Christ also was baptizing ; for while their attention 
was directed to the person of a man, and to outward ap- 
pearance, 1 they gave themselves less concern about the 
doctrine. We are taught, by their example, into what 
mistakes those men fall who are actuated by a sinful desire 
to please men rather than by a zeal for God ; and we are 
likewise reminded that the single object which we ought to 

1 " Et apparence exterieure," 


have in view and to promote by all means is, that Christ 
alone may have the pre-eminence. 

About purifying. The question was about purifying ; ■ for 
the Jews had various baptisms and washings 1 enjoined by 
the Law ; and not satisfied with those which God had ap- 
pointed, 2 they carefully observed many others which had 
been handed down from their ancestors. When they find 
that, in addition to so great a number and variety of pur if y- 
i?igs, a new method of purifying is introduced by Christ and 
by John, they look upon it as absurd. 

26. To whom thou gavest testimony. By this argument 
they endeavour either to make Christ inferior to John, or 
to show that John, by doing him honour, had laid him under 
obligations ; for they reckon that John conferred a favour 
on Christ by adorning him with such honourable titles. As 
if it had not been the duty of John to make such a procla- 
mation, or rather, as if it had not been John's highest dignity 
to be the herald of the Son of God. Nothing could have 
been more unreasonable than to make Christ inferior to 
John, because his testimony was highly favourable ; for we 
know what John's testimony was. The expression which 
they use — all men come to Christ — is the language of envious 
persons, 3 and proceeds from sinful ambition ; for they are 
afraid that the crowd will immediately forsake their master. 

27. A man cannot receive any thing. Some refer these 
words to Christ, as if John accused the disciples of wicked 
presumption in opposition to God, by endeavouring to de- 
prive Christ of what the Father had given to him. They 
suppose the meaning to be this : " That within so short a 
time he has risen to so great honour, is the work of God ; 
and therefore it is in vain for you to attempt to degrade him 
whom God with his own hand has raised on high." Others 
think that it is an exclamation into which he indignantly 
breaks forth, because his disciples had hitherto made so little 

1 " De baptesmes et lavemens." 2 " Quo Dieu avoit instituez.' 

3 " C'est une parole de gens envieux." 


progress. And certainly it was excessively absurd that they 
should still endeavour to reduce to the rank of ordinary men 
him who, they had so often heard, was the Christ, that he 
might not rise above his own servants ; and, therefore, John 
might justly have said that it is useless to spend time in 
instructing men, because they are dull and stupid, until they 
are renewed in mind. 

But 1 rather agree with the opinion of those who explain 
it as applying to John, as asserting that it is not in his 
power, or in theirs, to make him great, because the measure 
of us all is to be what God intended us to be. For if even 
the Son of God took not that honour to himself, (Heb. v. 4,) 
what man of the oi'dinary rank would venture to desire more 
than what the Lord has given him ? This single thought, 
if it were duly impressed on the minds of us all, would be 
abundantly sufficient for restraining ambition ; and were 
ambition corrected and destroyed, the plague of contentions 
would likewise be removed. How comes it then, that every 
man exalts himself more than is proper, but because we do 
not depend on the Lord, so as to be satisfied with the rank 
which he assigns to us ? 

28. You are witnesses to me. John expostulates with his 
disciples that they did not give credit to his statements. He 
had often warned them that he was not the Christ ; and, 
therefore, it only remained that he should be a servant and 
subject to the Son of God along with others. And this 
passage is worthy of notice ; for, by affirming that he is not 
the Christ, he reserves nothing for himself but to be subject 
to the head, and to serve in the Church as one of the rest, 
and not to be so highly exalted as to obscure the honour of 
the Head. He says that he was sent before, to prepare the 
way for Christ, as kings are wont to have heralds or fore- 

29. He who hath the bride is the bridegroom ; but the friend of the 
bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth exceedingly on 
account of the bridegroom's voice. This my joy, therefore, is fulfilled. 
30. He must increase, but I must decrease. 81. He who cometh from 


above is above all ; he who is from the earth is of the earth, and speaketh 1 
of the earth : he who cometh from heaven is above all. 32. And what 
he hath seen and heard, this he testifieth, and no man receiveth his 
testimony. 33. But he who receiveth his testimony hath sealed that God 
is true. "34. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for 
God giveth not the Spirit by measure. 

29. He who hath the bride. By this comparison, he con- 
firms more fully the statement, that it is Christ alone who is 
excluded from the ordinary rank of men. For as he who 
marries a wife does not call and invite his friends to the 
marriage, in order to prostitute the bride to them, or, by 
giving up his own rights, to allow them to partake with 
him of the nuptial bed, but rather that the marriage, being 
honoured by them, may be rendered more sacred ; so 
Christ does not call his ministers to the office of teaching, 
in order that, by conquering the Church, they may claim 
dominion over it, but that he may make use of their faithful 
labours for associating them with himself. It is a great and 
lofty distinction, that men are appointed over the Church, 
to represent the person of the Son of God. They are, there- 
fore, like the friends whom the bridegroom brings with him, 
that they may accompany him in celebrating the marriage ; 
but we must attend to the distinction, that ministers, being 
mindful of their rank, may not appropriate to themselves 
what belongs exclusively to the bridegroom. The whole 
amounts to this, that all the eminence which teachers may 
possess among themselves ought not to hinder Christ from 
ruling alone in his Church, or from governing it alone by his 

This comparison frequently occurs in Scripture, when the 
Lord intends to express the sacred bond of adoption, by 
which he binds us to himself. For as he offers himself to be 
truly enjoyed by us, that he may be ours, so he justly claims 
from us that mutual fidelity and love which the wife owes to 
her husband. This marriage is entirely fulfilled in Christ, 
whose flesh and bones we are, as Paul informs us, (Eph. v. 30.) 
The chastity demanded by him consists chiefly in the obe- 

1 "Et parle de la terre, ou, comme issu de terref — "and speaketh of 
the earth, or, as having proceeded from the earth.''' 


dience of the Gospel, that we may not suffer ourselves to be 
led aside from its pure simplicity, as the same Apostle teaches 
us, (2 Cor. xi. 2, 3.) "VVe must, therefore, be subject to 
Christ alone, he must be our only Head, we must not turn 
aside a hair's-breadth from the simple doctrine of the Gospel, 
he alone must have the highest glory, that he may retain the 
right and authority of being a bridegroom to us. 

But what are ministers to do ? Certainly, the Son of God 
calls them, that they may perform their duty to him in con- 
ducting the sacred marriage ; and, therefore, their duty is, to 
take care, in every way, that the spouse — who is committed 
to their charge — may be presented by them as a chaste virgin 
to her husband ; which Paul, in the passage already quoted, 
boasts of having done. But they who draw the Church to 
themselves rather than to Christ are guilty of basely violating 
the marriage which they ought to have honoured. And the 
greater the honour which Christ confers on us, by making us 
the guardians of his spouse, so much the more heinous is our 
want of fidelity, if we do not endeavour to maintain and 
defend his right. 

This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He means that be has 
obtained the fulfilment of all his desires, and that he has 
nothing further to wish, when he sees Christ reigning, and 
men listening to him as he deserves. Whoever shall have 
such affections that, laying aside all regard to himself, he 
shall extol Christ and be satisfied with seeing Christ honoured, 
will be faithful and successful in ruling the Church ; but, 
whoever shall swerve from that end in the slightest degree 
will be a base adulterer, and will do nothing else than corrupt 
the spouse of Christ. 

30. He must increase. John the Baptist proceeds farther ; 
for, having formerly been raised by the Lord to the highest 
dignity, he shows that this was only for a time, but now that 
the Sun of Righteousness (Mai. iv. 2) has arisen, he must give 
way ; and, therefore, he not only scatters and drives away 
the empty fumes of honour which had been rashly and igno- 
rantly heaped upon him by men, but also is exceedingly 
careful that the true and lawful honour which the Lord had 


bestowed on him may not obscure the glory of Christ. Ac- 
cordingly, he tells us that the reason why he had been hitherto 
accounted a great Prophet was, that for a time only he was 
placed in so lofty a station, until Christ came, to whom he 
must surrender his office. In the meantime, he declares that 
he will most willingly endure to be reduced to nothing, pro- 
vided that Christ occupy and fill the whole world with his 
rays ; and this zeal of John all pastors of the Church ought 
to imitate by stooping with the head and shoulders to elevate 

31. He who cometli from above. By another comparison he 
shows how widely Christ differs from all the rest, and how 
far he is above them ; for he compares him to a king or 
distinguished general, who, speaking from his lofty seat, ought 
to be heard with reverence for his authority, but shows that 
it is enough for himself to speak from the lowest footstool of 
Christ. 1 In the second clause the old Latin translation has 
only once the words, is of the earth ; but the Greek manuscripts 
agree in repeating the words twice. I suspect that ignorant 
men considered the repetition to be superfluous, and therefore 
erased it ; but the meaning is : he who is of earth gives evi- 
dence of his descent, and remains in an earthly rank according 
to the condition of his nature. He maintains that it is peculiar 
to Christ alone to speak from above, because he came from 

But it may be asked, Did not John also come from heaven, 
as to Installing and office, and was it not therefore the duty 
of men to hear the Lord speaking by his mouth ? For he 
appears to do injustice to the heavenly doctrine which he 
delivers. I reply, this was not said absolutely, but by com- 
parison. If ministers be separately considered, they speak as 
from heaven,y?ith the highest authority, what God commanded 
them ; but, as soon as they begin to be contrasted with 
Christ, they must no longer be anything. Thus the Apostle, 
comparing the Law with the Gospel, says, Since they escaped 
not who despised him that spoke on earth, beware lest you 

1 "Au marchepiecl de Christ." 


him who is from heaven, (Heb. xii. 25.) Christ, therefore, 
wishes to be acknowledged in his ministers, but in such a 
manner that he may remain the only Lord, and that they 
may be satisfied with the rank of servants ; but especially 
when a comparison is made, he wishes to be so distinguished 
that he alone may be exalted. 

32. And what he hath seen and heard. John proceeds in the 
discharge of his office ; for, in order to procure disciples for 
Christ, he commends Christ's doctrine as certain, because he 
utters nothing but what he has received from the Father. 
Seeing and hearing are contrasted with doubtful opinions, un- 
founded rumours, and every kind of falsehoods ; for he means 
that Christ teaches nothing but what has been fully ascer- 
tained. But some one will say that little credit is due to 
him who has nothing but what he has heard. I reply, this 
word denotes that Christ has been taught by the Father, so 
that he brings forward nothing but what is divine, or, in 
other words, what has been revealed to him by God. 

Now this belongs to the whole person of Christ, so far as 
the Father sent him into the world as His ambassador and 
interpreter. He afterwards charges the world with ingrati- 
tude, in basely and wickedly rejecting such an undoubted 
and faithful interpreter of God. In this way he meets the 
offence which might cause many to turn aside from the faith, 
and might hinder or retard the progress of many ; for, as we 
are accustomed to depend too much on the judgment of the 
world, a considerable number of persons judge of the Gospel 
by the contempt of the world, or at least, where they see it 
everywhere rejected, they are prejudiced by that event, and 
are rendered more unwilling and more slow to believe. And, 
therefore, whenever we see such obstinacy in the world, let 
this admonition hold us in constant obedience to the Gospel, 
that it is truth which came from God. When he says that 
NO man receiveth his testimony, he means that there are very 
few and almost no believers, when compared with the vast 
crowd of unbelievers. 

33. But he who receiveth his testimony. Here he exhorts 
VOL. I. I 


and encourages the godly to embrace boldly the doctrine of 
the Gospel, as if he had said that there was no reason why 
they should be ashamed or uneasy on account of their small 
number, since they have God as the Author of their faith, 
who alone abundantly supplies to us the place of all the rest. 
And, therefore, though the whole world should refuse or 
withhold faith in the Gospel, this ought not to prevent good 
men from giving their assent to God. They have something 
on which they may safely rest, when they know that to believe 
the Gospel is nothing else than to assent to the truths which 
God has revealed. Meanwhile, we learn that it is peculiar 
to faith to rely on God, and to be confirmed by his words ; 
for there can be no assent, unless God have, first of all, come 
forward and spoken. By this doctrine faith is not only 
distinguished from all human inventions, but likewise from 
doubtful and wavering opinions ; for it must correspond to 
the truth of God, which is free from all doubt, and therefore, 
as God cannot lie, it would be absurd that faith should waver. 
Fortified by this defence, whatever contrivances Satan may 
employ in his attempts to disturb and shake us, we shall 
always remain victorious. 

Hence, too, we are reminded how acceptable and precious 
a sacrifice in the sight of God faith is. As nothing is more 
dear to him than his truth, so we cannot render to him more 
acceptable worship than when we acknowledge by our faith 
that He is true, for then we ascribe that honour which truly 
belongs to him. On the other hand, we cannot offer to him 
a greater insult than not to believe the Gospel ; for he cannot 
be deprived of his truth without taking away all his glory 
and majesty. His truth is in some sort closely linked with 
the Gospel, and it is his will that there it should be recognized. 
Unbelievers, therefore, as far as lies in their power, leave to 
God nothing whatever; not that their wickedness overthrows 
the faithfulness of God, but because they do not hesitate to 
charge God with falsehood. If we are not harder than stones, 
this lofty title by which faith is adorned ought to kindle in 
our minds the most ardent love of it ; for how great is the 
honour which God confers on poor worthless men, when they, 
who by nature are nothing else than falsehood and vanity, 


are thought worthy of attesting by their signature the sacred 
truth of God ? 

34. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God. 
He confirms the preceding statement, for he shows that we 
have actually to do with God, when we receive the doctrine 
of Christ ; because Christ proceeded from none else than from 
the Heavenly Father. It is, therefore, God alone who speaks 
to us by him ; and, indeed, we do not assign to the doctrine 
of Christ ail that it deserves, unless we acknowledge it to be 

For God givcth not the Spirit by measure. This passage is 
explained in two ways. Some extend it to the ordinary 
dispensation in this manner : that God, who is the inexhaus- 
tible fountain of all benefits, does not in the least degree 
diminish his resources, when he largely and plentifully bestows 
his gifts on men. They who draw from any vessel what they 
give to others come at last to the bottom ; but there is no 
danger that any thing of this sort can happen with God, nor 
will the abundance of his gifts ever be so large that he cannot 
go beyond it, whenever he shall be pleased to make a new 
exercise of liberality. This exposition appears to have some 
plausibility, for the sentence is indefinite ; that is, it does not 
expressly point out any person. 1 

Bat I am more disposed to follow Augustine, who explains 
that it was said concerning Christ. Nor is there any force 
in the objection, that no express mention is made of Christ 
in this clause, since all ambiguity is removed by the next 
clause, in which that which might seem to have been said 
indiscriminately about many is limited to Christ. For these 
words were unquestionably added for the sake of explanation, 
that the Father hath given all things i?ito the hand of his Son, 
because he loveth him, and ought therefore to be read as placed 
in immediate connection. The verb in the present tense — 
giveth — denotes, as it were, a continued act ; for though Christ 
was all at once endued with the Spirit in the highest perfec- 
tion, yet, as he continually flows, as it were, from a source, 

1 " C'est k dire, ne determine point certaine personnc" 


and is widely diffused, there is no impropriety in saying that 
Christ now receives him from the Father. But if any one 
choose to interpret it more simply, it is no unusual thing that 
there should be a change of tenses in such verbs, and that 
giveth should be put for hath given. 1 

The meaning is now plain, that the Spirit ivas not given 
to Christ by measure, as if the power of grace which he pos- 
sesses were in any way limited ; as Paul teaches that to every 
one is given according to the measure of the gift, (Eph. iv. 7,) so 
that there is no one who alone has full abundance. For while 
this is the mutual bond of brotherly intercourse between us, 
that no man separately considered has every thing that he 
needs, but all require the aid of each other, Christ differs 
from us in this respect, that the Father has poured out upon 
him an unlimited abundance of his Spirit. And, certainly, 
it is proper that the Spirit should dwell without measure in 
him, that we may all draw out of his fulness, as we have seen 
in the first chapter. And to this relates what immediately 
follows, that the Father hath given all things into his hand; for 
by these Avords John the Baptist not only declares the excel- 
lence of Christ, but, at the same time, points out the end and 
use of the riches with which he is endued; namely, that Christ, 
having been appointed by the Father to be the administrator, 
he distributes to every one as he chooses, and as he finds to 
be necessary ; as Paul explains more fully in the fourth 
chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, which I lately quoted. 
Although God enriches his own people in a variety of ways, 
this is peculiar to Christ alone, that he has all things in his 

35. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 
36. He who believeth in the Son hath eternal life ; but he who believeth 
not in the Son 2 shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. 

35. The Father loveth the Son. But what is the meaning 
of this reason ? Does he regard all others with hatred ? The 
answer is easy, that he does not speak of the common love 

1 " Et que Donne soit mis pour et doime." 

- " Qui ne croit point auFils, ou, quidesobeit au Fife;" — " who believeth 
not in the Son, or, who disobeueth thf Son." 


with which God regards men whom he has created, or his 
other works, but of that peculiar love which, beginning with 
the Son, flows from him to all the creatures. For that love 
with which, embracing the Son, he embraces us also in him, 
leads him to communicate all his benefits to us by his hand. 

36. He icho believeth in the Son. This was added, not only 
to inform us that we ought to ask all good things from Christ, 
but likewise to make us acquainted with the manner in which 
they are enjoyed. He shows that enjoyment consists in faith ; 
and not without reason, since by means of it we possess 
Christ, who brings along with him both righteousness and 
life, which is the fruit of righteousness. When faith in 
Christ is declared to be the cause of life, we learn from it 
that life is to be found in Christ alone, and that in no other 
way do we become partakers of it than by the grace of Christ 
himself. But all are not agreed as to the way in which the 
life of Christ comes to us. Some understand it thus : " as 
by believing we receive the Spirit, who regenerates us in 
order to justification, by that very regeneration we obtain 
salvation." For my own part, though I acknowledge it to 
be true, that we are renewed by faith, so that the Spirit of 
Christ governs us, yet I say that we ought first to take into 
consideration the free forgiveness of sins, through which we 
are accepted by God. Again, I say that on this all our con- 
fidence of salvation is founded, and in this it consists ; because 
justification before God cannot be reckoned to us in any 
other way than when he does not impute to us our sins. 

Bat he who believeth not in the So?i. As he held out life in 
Christ, by the sweetness of which he might allure us, so now 
he adjudges to eternal death all who do not believe in Christ. 
And, in this way, he magnifies the kindness of God, when he 
warns us, that there is no other way of escaping death, 
unless Christ deliver us ; for this sentence depends on the 
fact, that we are all accursed in Adam. Now if it be the 
office of Christ to save what was lost, they who reject the 
salvation offered in him are justly suffered to remain in 
death. We have just now said that this belongs peculiarly 
to those who reject the gospel which has been revealed to 


them ; for though all mankind are involved in the same de- 
struction, yet a heavier and double vengeance awaits those 
who refuse to have the Son of God as their deliverer. And, 
indeed, it cannot be doubted that the Baptist, when he 
denounced death against unbelievers, intended to excite us, 
by the dread of it, to the exercise of faith in Christ. It is 
also manifest that all the righteousness which the world 
thinks that it has out of Christ is condemned and reduced 
to nothing. Nor is any one enabled to object that it is 
unjust that those who are otherwise devout and holy should 
perish, because they do not believe ; for it is folly to imagine 
that there is any holiness in men, unless it have been given 
to them by Christ. 

To see life is here put for " enjoying life." But to express 
more clearly that no hope remains for us, unless we are 
delivered by Christ, he says that the wrath of God abideth on 
unbelievers. Though I am not dissatisfied with the view 
given by Augustine, that John the Baptist used the word 
abideth, in order to inform us that, from the womb we were 
appointed to death, because we are all born the children of 
wrath, (Eph. ii. 3.) At least, I willingly admit an allusion of 
this sort, provided we hold the true and simple meaning to 
be what I have stated, that death hangs over all unbe- 
lievers, and keeps them oppressed and overwhelmed in such 
a manner that they can never escape. And, indeed, though 
already the reprobate are naturally condemned, yet by their 
unbelief they draw down on themselves a new death. And 
it is for this purpose that the power of binding was given to 
the ministers of the gospel ; for it is a just vengeance on the 
obstinacy of men, that they who shake off the salutary yoke 
of God should bind themselves with the chains of death. 



1. When, therefore, the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that 
Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (2. Though Jesus 
himself did not baptize, but his disciples,) 3. He left Judea, and de- 
parted again into Galilee. 4. And it was necessary that he should pass 
through Samaria. 5. He came, therefore, into the city of Samaria, which 
fa called Sichar, near a field which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6. 
And Jacob's well was there ; and Jesus, fatigued by the journey, was 
thus sitting on the well, for it was about the sixth hour. 7. A woman 
came from Samaria to draw water. Jesus saith to her, Give me to drink. 
8. For the disciples had gone into the city to buy food. 9. The Samari- 
tan woman saith to him, How dost thou, who art a Jew, ask drink from 
me, who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews hold no intercourse 
with the Samaritans. 

1. When, therefore, the Lord knew. The Evangelist, in- 
tending now to give an account of the conversation which 
Christ had with a Samaritan ivoman, begins with explaining 
the cause of his journey. Knowing that the Pharisees were 
ill-disposed towards him, he did not wish to expose himself 
to their anger before the proper time. This was his motive 
for setting out from Judea. The Evangelist thus informs us 
that Christ did not come into Samaria with the intention of 
dwelling there, but because he had to pass through it on his 
way from Judea to Galilee ; for until, by his resurrection, he 
should open up the way for the gospel, it was necessary that 
he should be employed in gathering the sheep of Israel to 
which he had been sent. That he now favoured the Sama- 
ritans with his instruction was an extraordinary and almost 
accidental occurrence, if we may be allowed the expression. 

But why does he seek the retirement and lurking-places 
of Galilee, as if he were unwilling to be known, which was 
highly to be desired ? I reply, he knew well the proper way 
to act, and made such use of the opportunities of usefulness 
that he did not allow a moment to be lost. He wished, 
therefore, to pursue his course with regularity, and in such 
a manner as he judged to be proper. Hence too we hear 
that our minds ought to be regulated in such a manner that, 
on the one hand, we may not be deterred by any fear from 
going forward in duty ; and that, on the other hand, we may 


not too rashly throw ourselves into dangers. All who are 
earnestly desirous to pursue their calling will be careful to 
maintain this moderation, for which they will steadily follow 
the Lord even through the midst of deaths ; they will not 
rush into them heedlessly, but will walk in their ways. Let 
us, therefore, remember that we must not advance farther 
than our calling demands. 

Ttiat the Pharisees had heard. The Pharisees alone are 
mentioned by the Evangelist as having been hostile to 
Christ ; not that the other scribes were friendly, but because 
this sect was at that time in the ascendant, and because they 
were filled with rage under the pretence of godly zeal. It 
may be asked, Did they envy Christ that he had more dis- 
ciples, because their stronger attachment to John led them to 
promote his honour and reputation ? The meaning of the 
words is different ; for though they were formerly dissatisfied 
at finding that John collected disciples, their minds were still 
more exasperated, when they saw that a still greater number 
of disciples came to Christ. From the time that John avowed 
himself to be nothing more than the herald of the Son of 
God, they began to flock to Christ in greater crowds, and 
already he had almost completed his ministry. Thus he 
gradually resigned to Christ the office of teaching and bap- 

2. Though Jesus himself baptized not. He gives the desig- 
nation of Christ" s Baptism to that which he conferred by the 
hands of others, in order to inform us that Baptism ought 
not to be estimated by the person of the minister, but that 
its power depends entirely on its Author, in whose name, 
and by whose authority, it is conferred. Hence we derive a 
remarkable consolation, when we know that our baptism has 
no less efficacy to wash and renew us, than if it had been 
given by the hand of the Son of God. Nor can it be doubted 
that, so long as he lived in the world, he abstained from 
the outward administration of the sign, for the express pur- 
pose of testifying to all ages, that Baptism loses nothing of 
its value when it is administered by a mortal man. In short, 
not only does Christ baptize inwardly by his Spirit, but the 


very symbol which we receive from a mortal man ought to 
be viewed by us in the same light as if Christ himself displayed 
his hand from heaven, and stretched it out to us. Now if 
the Baptism administered by a man is Christ's Baptism, it 
will not cease to be Christ's Baptism whoever be the minis- 
ter. And this is sufficient for refuting the Anabaptists, who 
maintain that, when the minister is a wicked man, the bap- 
tism is also vitiated, and, by means of this absurdity, disturb 
the Church ; as Augustine has very properly employed the 
same argument against the Donatists. 

5. Which is called Sichar. Jerome, in his epitaph on Paula, 
thinks that this is an incorrect reading, and that it ought to 
have been written Sichem ; and, indeed, the latter appears to 
have been the ancient and true name; but it is probable that, 
in the time of the Evangelist, the word Sichar was already 
in common use. As to the place, it is generally agreed that 
it was a city situated close to Mount Gerizzim, the inhabit- 
ants of which were treacherously slain by Simeon and Levi, 
(Gen. xxxiv. 25,) and which Abimelech, a native of the place, 
afterwards razed to its foundations, (Judges ix. 45.) But the 
convenience of its situation was such that, a third time, a 
city was built there, which, in the age of Jerome, they called 
Neapolis. By adding so many circumstances, the Apostle 
removes all doubt ; for we are clearly informed by Moses 
where that field was Avhich Jacob assigned to the children of 
Joseph, (Gen. xlviii. 22.) It is universally acknowledged, 
also, that Mount Gerizzim Avas near to Shechem. We shall 
afterwards state that a temple was built there ; and there can 
be no doubt that Jacob dwelt a long time in that place with 
his family. 

And Jesus, fatigued by the journey. He did not pretend 
weariness, but was actually fatigued ; for, in order that he 
might be better prepared for the exercise of sympathy and 
compassion towards us, he took upon him our weaknesses, as 
the Apostle shows that we have not a high priest tcho cannot 
be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, (Heb. iv. 1 5.) With 
this agrees the circumstance of the time ; for it is not won- 
derful that, being thirsty and fatigued, he rested at the well 


about noon ; for as the day, from sunrise to sunset, had twelve 
hours, the sixth hour was Noon. When the Evangelist says 
that he sat thus, he means that it was the attitude of a man 
who was fatigued. 

7. A woman came from Samaria. When he asks water 
from the woman, he does it not merely with the intention of 
obtaining an opportunity to teach her ; for thirst prompted 
him to desire to drink. But this cannot hinder him from 
availing himself of the opportunity of instruction which he 
has obtained, for he prefers the salvation of the woman to 
his own wants. Thus, forgetting his own thirst, as if he 
were satisfied with obtaining leisure and opportunity for con- 
versation, that he might instruct her in true godliness, he 
draws a comparison between the visible water and the spiritual, 
and waters with heavenly doctrine the mind of her who had 
refused him water to drink. 

9. How dost thou, who art a Jew ? This is a reproach, by 
which she retorts upon him the contempt which was generally 
entertained by his nation. The Samaritans are known to 
have been the scum of a people gathered from among 
foreigners. Having corrupted the worship of God, and in- 
troduced many spurious and wicked ceremonies, they were 
justly regarded by the Jews with detestation. Yet it cannot 
be doubted that the Jews, for the most part, held out their 
zeal for the law as a cloak for their carnal hatred ; for many 
were actuated more by ambition and envy, and by displeasure 
at seeing the country which had been allotted to them 
occupied by the Samaritans, than by grief and uneasiness 
because the worship of God had been corrupted. There was 
just ground for the separation, provided that their feelings 
had been pure and well regulated. For this reason Christ, 
when he first sends the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel, for- 
bids them to turn aside to the Samaritans, (Matth. x. 5.) 

But this woman does what is natural to almost all of us ; 
for, being desirous to be held in esteem, we take very ill to 
be despised. This disease of human nature is so general, that 
every person wishes that his vices should please others. If 


any man disapproves of us, or of any thing that we do or say, 1 
we are immediately offended without any good reason. Let 
any man examine himself, and he will find this seed of pride 
in his mind, until it has been eradicated by the Spirit of God. 
This woman, therefore, knowing that the superstitions of her 
nation were condemned by the Jews, now offers an insult to 
them in the person of Christ. 

For the Jews hold no intercourse with the Samaritans. These 
words I consider to have been uttered by the woman. Others 
suppose that the Evangelist added them for the sake of 
explanation, and, indeed, it is of little consequence which 
meaning you prefer. But I think it more natural to believe 
that the woman jeers at Christ in this manner : " What ? Is it 
lawful for you to ask drink from me, when you hold us to be 
so profane ?" If any prefer the other interpretation, I do not 
dispute the point. Besides, it is possible that the Jews carried 
their abhorrence of the Samaritans beyond proper bounds ; 
for, as we have said that they applied to an improper purpose 
a false pretence of zeal, so it was natural for them to go to 
excess, as almost always happens with those who give way to 
wicked passions. 

10. Jesus answered and said to her, If thou knewest the gift of God, 
and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked 
of him, and he would ha\e given thee living water. 11. The woman saith 
to him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep ; whence, 
therefore, hast thou living water ? 2 12. Art thou greater than our father 
Jacob, who gave us the well, and himself drank of it, and his children, and 
his cattle ? 13. Jesus answered and said to her. Every one that drinketh 
of this water will thirst again ; 14. But he who drinketh of the water which 
I shall give him will never thirst ; but the water, which I shall give him, 
shall be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life. 15. The 
woman saith to him, Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, and 
may not come hither to draw. 

10. Jesus answered. Christ now, availing himself of the 
opportunity, begins to preach about the grace and power of 
his Spirit, and that to a woman who did not at all deserve 
that he should speak a word to her. This is certainly an 

1 " Et qui reprouve ce que nous disons ou faisons." 

2 " Ceste eau vive ;" — " this living water." 


astonishing instance of his goodness. For what was there in 
this wretched woman, that, from being a prostitute, she sud- 
denly became a disciple of the Son of God ? Though in all 
of us he has displayed a similar instance of his compassion. 
All the women, indeed, are not prostitutes, nor are all the 
men stained by some heinous crime ; but what excellence can 
any of us plead as a reason why he deigned to bestow on us 
the heavenly doctrine, and the honour of being admitted into 
his family ? Nor was it by accident that the conversation 
with such a person occurred ; for the Lord showed us, as in 
a model, that those to whom he imparts the doctrine of sal- 
vation are not selected on the ground of merit. And it appears 
at first sight a wonderful arrangement, that he passed by so 
many great men in Judea, and yet held familiar discourse 
with this woman. But it was necessary that, in his person, 
it should be explained how true is that saying of the Prophet, 
I was found by them that sought me not ; I was made manifest 
to them that asked not after me. I said to those who sought me 
not, Behold, here I am, (Isa. lxv. 1.) 

If thou knewest the gift of God. These two clauses, If thou 
hieioest the gift of God, and, who it is that talketh icith thee, I 
read separately, viewing the latter as an interpretation of the 
former. For it was a wonderful kindness of God to have 
Christ present, who brought with him eternal life. The 
meaning will be more plain if, instead of and, we put namely, 
or some other word of that kind, 1 thus : If thou knewest the 
gift of God, namely, who it is that talketh with thee. By these 
words we are taught that then only do we know what Christ 
is, when w T e understand what the Father hath given to us in 
him, and what benefits he brings to us. Now that knowledge 
begins with a conviction of our poverty ; for, before any one 
desires a remedy, he must be previously affected with the 
view of his distresses. Thus the Lord invites not those who 
have drunk enough, but the thirsty, not those who are satiated, 
but the hungry, to eat and drink. And why would Christ 
be sent with the fulness of the Spirit, if we were not empty ? 

Again, as he has made great progress, who, feeling his 

1 "Si en lieu de Et, nous mettons .1 scavoir, ou quelque autre mot 


deficiency, already acknowledges how much he needs the aid 
of another ; so it would not be enough for him to groan under 
his distresses, if he had not also hope of aid ready and prepared. 
In this way we might do no more than waste ourselves with 
grief, or at least we might, like the Papists, run about in 
every direction, and oppress ourselves with useless and un- 
profitable weariness. But when Christ appears, we no longer 
wander in vain, seeking a remedy where none can be obtained, 
but we go straight to him. The only true and profitable 
knowledge of the grace of God is, when we know that it is 
exhibited to us in Christ, and that it is held out to us by his 
hand. In like manner does Christ remind us how efficacious 
is a knowledge of his blessings, since it excites us to seek 
them and kindles our hearts. If thou knewest, says he, thou 
wouldst have asked. The design of these words is not difficult 
to be perceived ; for he intended to whet the desire of this 
woman, that she might not despise and reject the life which 
was offered to her. 

He would have given thee. By these words Christ testifies 
that, if our prayers be addressed to him, they will not be 
fruitless; and, indeed, without this confidence, the earnest- 
ness of prayer would be entirely cooled. But when Christ 
meets those who come to him, and is ready to satisfy their 
desires, there is no more room for sluggishness or delay. And 
there is no man who would not feel that this is said to all ot 
us, if he were not prevented by his unbelief. 

Living water. Though the name Water is borrowed from the 
present occurrence, and applied to the Spirit, yet this meta- 
phor is very frequent in Scripture, and rests on the best 
grounds. For we are like a dry and barren soil ; there is no 
sap and no vigour in us, until the Lord water us by his 
Spirit. In another passage, the Spirit is likewise called 
clean water, (Heb. x. 22,) but in a different sense ; namely, 
because he washes and cleanses us from the pollutions with 
which we are entirely covered. But in this and similar pass- 
ages, the subject treated of is the secret energy by which 
he restores life in us, and maintains and brings it to perfec- 
tion. There are some who explain this as referring to the 
doctrine of the Gospel, to which I own that this appellation 


is fully applicable ; but I think that Christ includes here the 
whole grace of our renewal ; for we know that he was sent 
for the purpose of bringing to us a new life. In my opinion, 
therefore, he intended to contrast water with that destitution 
of all blessings under which mankind groan and labour. 
Again, living water is not so called from its effect, as life- 
giving, but the allusion is to different kinds of waters. It is 
called living, because it flows from a living fountain. 

11. Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with. As the Samaritans 
were despised by the Jews, so the Samaritans, on the other 
hand, held the Jews in contempt. Accordingly, this woman 
at first not only disdains Christ, but even mocks at him. She 
understands quite well that Christ is speaking figuratively, 
but she throws out a jibe by a different figure, intending to 
say, that he promises more than he can accomplish. 

12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob f She proceeds 
to charge him Avith arrogance in exalting himself above the 
holy patriarch Jacob. " Jacob," she says, " was satisfied with 
this well for his own use and that of his whole family : and 
hast thou a more excellent water?" How faulty this com- 
parison is, appears plainly enough from this consideration, 
that she compares the servant to the master, and a dead man 
to the living God ; and yet how many in the present day fall 
into this very error ? The more cautious ought we to be not 
to extol the persons of men so as to obscure the glory of 
God. We ought, indeed, to acknowledge with reverence 
the gifts of God, wherever they appear. It is, therefore, 
proper that we should honour men who are eminent in piety, 
or endued with other uncommon gifts ; but it ought to be in 
such a manner that God may always remain eminent above 
all — that Christ, with his Gospel, may shine illustriously, for 
to him all the splendour of the world must yield. 

It ought also to be observed that the Samaritans falsely 
boasted of being descended from the holy Fathers. In like 
manner do the Papists, though they are a bastard seed, arro- 
gantly boast of the Fathers, and despise the true children of 
God. Although the Samaritans had been descended from 


Jacob according to the flesh, yet, as they were altogether 
degenerated and estranged from true godliness, this boasting 
would have been ridiculous. But now that they are Cutheans 
by descent, (2 Kings xvii. 24,) or at least collected out of 
the profane Gentiles, they still do not fail to make false pre- 
tensions to the name of the holy Patriarch. But this is of 
no avail to them ; and such must be the case with all who 
wickedly exult in the light of men, so as to deprive them- 
selves of the light of God, and who have nothing in common 
with the holy Fathers, whose name they have abused. 

13. Every one that drinketh of this water. Though Christ 
perceives that he is doing little good, and even that his in- 
struction is treated with mockery, he proceeds to explain 
more clearly what he had said. He distinguishes between 
the use of the two kinds of water ; that the one serves the 
body, and only for a time, while the power of the other gives 
perpetual vigour to the soul. For, as the body is liable to 
decay, so the aids by which it is supported must be frail and 
transitory. That which quickens the soul cannot but be 
eternal. Again, the words of Christ are not at variance with 
the fact, that believers, to the very end of life, burn with 
desire of more abundant grace. For he does not say that, 
from the very first day, we drink so as to be fully satisfied , 
but only means that the Holy Spirit is a continually flowing 
fountain ; and that, therefore, there is no danger that they 
who have been renewed by spiritual grace shall be dried up. 
And, therefore, although we thirst throughout our whole life, 
yet it is certain that we have not received the Holy Spirit 
for a single day, or for any short period, but as a perennial 
fountain, which will never fail us. Thus believers thirst, and 
keenly thirst, throughout their whole life ; and yet they have 
abundance of quickening moisture ; for however small may 
have been the measure of grace which they have received, it 
gives them perpetual vigour, so that they are never entirely 
dry. When, therefore, he says that they shall be satisfied, 
he contrasts not with Desire but only with Drought. 

Shall be a fountain of water springing vp into eternal life. 
These words express still more clearly the preceding state- 



in them a heavenly eternity during this mortal and perishing 
life. The grace of Christ, therefore, does not flow to us for 
a short time, but overflows into a blessed immortality ; for 
it does not cease to flow until the incorruptible life which it 
commences be brought to perfection. 

15. Give me this water. This woman undoubtedly is suf- 
ficiently aware that Christ is speaking of spiritual water; but 
because she despises him, she sets at naught all his promises, 
for so long as the authority of him who speaks is not acknow- 
ledged by us, his doctrine is not permitted to enter. Indi- 
rectly, therefore, the woman taunted Christ, saying, '* Thou 
boastest much, but I see nothing : show it in reality, if thou 

16. Jesus saith to her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17. The 
woman answered, and said to him, I have not a husband. Jesus said to 
her, Thou hast well said, I have not a husband ; 18. For thou hast had 
five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband ; in this 
thou hast told the truth. 19. The woman saith to him, Sir, I see that 
thou art a Prophet. 20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain ; and 
you say that Jerusalem is the place where we ought to worship. 21. 
Jesus saith to her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when you shall 
not worship the Father either in this mountain or in Jerusalem. 

16. Call thy husband. This appears to have no connection 
with the subject ; and, indeed, one might suppose that Christ, 
annoyed and put to shame by the impudence of the woman, 
changes the discourse. But this is not the case ; for when 
he perceived that jeers and scoffs were her only reply to 
what he had said, he applied an appropriate remedy to this 
disease, by striking the woman's conscience with a conviction 
of her sin. And it is also a remarkable proof of his compas- 
sion that, when the woman was unwilling of her own accord 
to come to him, he draws her, as it were, against her will. 
But we ought chiefly to observe what I have mentioned, that 
they who are utterly careless and almost stupid must be 
deeply wounded by a conviction of sin ; for such persons will 
regard the doctrine of Christ as a fable, until, being summoned 
to the judgment-seat of God, they are compelled to dread as 
a Judge him whom they formerly despised. All who do not 


scruple to rise against the doctrine of Christ with their scoff- 
ing jests must be treated in this manner, that they may be 
made to feel that they will not pass unpunished. Such too 
is the obstinacy of many, that they will never listen to Christ 
until they have been subdued by violence. Whenever then 
we perceive that the oil of Christ has no flavour, it ought to 
be mixed with wine, that its taste may begin to be felt. Nay- 
more, this is necessary for all of us ; for we are not seriously 
affected by Christ speaking, unless we have been aroused by 
repentance. So then, in order that any one may profit in 
the school of Christ, his hardness must be subdued by the 
demonstration of his misery, as the earth, in order that it may 
become fruitful, is prepared and softened by the ploughshare, 1 
for this knowledge alone shakes off all our flatteries, so that we 
no longer dare to mock God. Whenever, therefore, a neglect 
of the word of God steals upon us, no remedy will be more 
appropriate than that each of us should arouse himself to the 
consideration of his sins, that he may be ashamed of himself, 
and, trembling before the judgment-seat of God, may be 
humbled to obey Him whom he had wantonly despised. 

17. I have not a husband. We do not yet fully perceive 
the fruit of this advice, by which Christ intended to pierce 
the heart of this woman, to lead her to repentance. And, 
indeed, we are so intoxicated, or rather stupified, by our self- 
love, that we are not at all moved by the first wounds that 
are inflicted. But Christ applies an appropriate cure for this 
sluggishness, by pressing the ulcer more sharply, for he openly 
reproaches her with her wickedness ; though I do not think 
that it is a single case of fornication that is here pointed out, 
for when he says that she has had Jive husba?ids, the reason of 
this probably was, that, being a froward and disobedient wife, 
she constrained her husbands to divorce her. I interpret the 
words thus : " Though God joined thee to lawful husbands, 
thou didst not cease to sin, until, rendered infamous by nu- 
merous divorces, thou prostitutedst thyself to fornication." 

1 "Tout ainsi que la terre, pour apporter fruict, sera menuisee et 
amollie par le soc de la charrue." 

VOL. I. K 


19. Sir, I perceive that thou art a Prophet. The fruit of the 
reproof now becomes evident ; for not only does the woman 
modestly acknowledge her fault, but, being ready and prepared 
to listen to the doctrine of Christ, which she had formerly 
disdained, she now desires and requests it of her own accord. 
Repentance, therefore, is the commencement of true docility, 
as I have already said, and opens the gate for entering into 
the school of Christ. Again, the woman teaches us by her 
example, that when we meet with any teacher, we ought to 
avail ourselves of this opportunity, that we may not be un- 
grateful to God, who never sends Prophets to us without, as 
it were, stretching out the hand to invite us to himself. But 
we must remember what Paul teaches, that they who have 
grace given to them to teach well l are sent to us by God ; 
for how shall they preach unless they are sent? (Rom. x. 15.) 

20. Our fathers. It is a mistaken opinion which some hold, 
that the woman, finding the reproof to be disagreeable and 
hateful, cunningly changes the subject. On the contrary 
she passes from what is particular to what is general, and, 
having been informed of her sin, wishes to be generally in- 
structed concerning the pure worship of God. She takes a 
proper and regular course, when she consults a Prophet, that 
she may not fall into a mistake in the worship of God. It is 
as if she inquired at God himself in what manner he chooses 
to be worshipped ; for nothing is more wicked than to contrive 
various modes of worship without the authority of the word 
of God. 

It is well known that there was a constant dispute between 
the Jews and the Samaritans about the true rule of worship- 
ping God. Although the Cutheans and other foreigners, 
who had been brought into Samaria, when the ten tribes 
were led into captivity, were constrained by the plagues and 
punishments of God 2 to adopt the ceremonies of the Law, and 
to profess the worship of the God of Israel, (as we read, 
2 Kings xvii. 27;) yet the religion which they had was imper- 

" Qui ont la grace de bien enseigner." 
" Par les playes et punitions de Dieu.' 


feet and corrupted in many ways : which the Jews could not 
all endure. But the dispute was still more inflamed after 
that Manasseh, son of the high priest John, and brother of 
Jaddus, had built the temple on mount Gerizzim, when 
Darius, the last king of the Persians, held the government of 
Judea by the hand of Sanballat, whom he had placed there 
as his lieutenant. For Manasseh, having married a daughter 
of the governor, that he might not be inferior to his brother, 
made himself a priest there, and procured for himself by bribes 
as many apostles as he could, as Josephus relates, (Ant. XI. 
vii. 2, and viii. 2.) 

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain. The Samaritans 
at that time did, as we learn from the words of the woman, 
what is customary with those who have revolted from true 
godliness, to seek to shield themselves by the examples of the 
Fathers. It is certain that this was not the reason which 
induced them to offer sacrifices there, but after that they had 
framed a false and perverse worship, obstinacy followed, which 
was ingenious in contriving excuses. I acknowledge, indeed, 
that unsteady and thoughtless men are sometimes excited by 
foolish zeal, as if they had been bitten by a gad-fly, so that 
when they learn that any thing has been done by the Saints, 
they instantly seize on the example without any exercise of 

A second fault is still more common, that they borrow the 
deeds of the Fathers as a cloak to their errors, — and this may 
be easily seen in Popery. But as this passage is a remark- 
able proof how absurdly they act who, disregarding the com- 
mand of God, conform to the examples of the Fathers, we 
ought to observe in how many ways the world commonly 
sins in this respect. For it frequently happens that the 
majority, without discrimination, follow those persons as 
Fathers who are least of all entitled to be accounted Fathers. 
Thus in the present day we perceive that the Papists, while 
with open mouth they declaim about the Fathers, allow no 
place for Prophets and Apostles, but, when they have men- 
tioned a few persons who deserve to be honoured, collect a 
vast group of men like themselves, or at least come down to 
more corrupt ages in which, though there did not yet prevail 


so gross a barbarism as now exists, yet religion and the purity 
of doctrine had greatly declined. We ought, therefore, care- 
fully to attend to the distinction, that none may be reckoned 
Fathers but those who were manifestly the sons of God ; and 
who also, by the eminence of their piety, were entitled to 
this honourable rank. Frequently, too, we err in this re- 
spect, that by the actions of the Fathers we rashly lay down 
a common law ; for the multitude do not imagine that they 
confer sufficient honour on the Fathers, if they do not exclude 
them from the ordinary rank of men. Thus, when we do 
not remember that they were fallible men, we indiscriminately 
mingle their vices with their virtues. Hence arises the worst 
confusion in the conduct of life ; for while all the actions of 
men ought to be tried by the rule of the Law, we subject the 
balance to those things which ought to be weighed by it ; and, 
in short, where so much importance is attached to the imita- 
tion of the Fathers, the world thinks that there can be no 
danger in sinning after their example. 

A third fault is — a false, and ill-regulated, or thoughtless 
imitation ;' that is, when we, though not endued with the 
same spirit, or authorised by the same command, plead as 
our example what any of the Fathers did ; as for instance, if 
any private individual resolved to revenge the injuries done 
to brethren, because Moses did this, (Exod. ii. 12 ;) or if any 
one were to put fornicators to death, because this was done 
by Phinehas, (Num. xxv. 7.) That savage fury in slaying 
their own children originated, as many think, in the wish of 
the Jews to be like their father Abraham, as if the command, 
Offer up thy son Isaac, (Gen. xxii. 2,) were a general com- 
mand, and not rather a remarkable trial of a single man. 
Such a false imitation (xaxo^X/'a) is generally produced by 
pride and excessive confidence, when men claim more for 
themselves than they have a right to do; and when each 
person does not measure himself by his own standard. Yet 
none of these are true imitators of the Fathers, most of them 
are apes. That a considerable portion of ancient monachism 
flowed from the same source will be acknowledged by those 

1 " Une fausse imitation, et mal reiglee, ou inconsideree." 


who shall carefully examine the writings of the ancients. 
And, therefore, unless we choose to err of our own accord, 
we ought always to see what spirit each person has received, 
what his calling requires, what is suitable to his condition, 
and what he is commanded to do. 

Closely allied to this third fault is another, namely, the 
confounding of times, when men, devoting their whole atten- 
tion to the examples of tlie Fathers, do not consider that the 
Lord has since enjoined a different rule of conduct, which 
they ought to follow. 1 To this ignorance ought to be ascribed 
that huge mass of ceremonies by which the Church has been 
buried under Popery. Immediately after the commencement 
of the Christian Church, it began to err in this respect, be- 
cause a foolish affectation of copying Jewish ceremonies had 
an undue influence. The Jews had their sacrifices ; and that 
Christians might not be inferior to them in splendour, the 
ceremony of sacrificing Christ was invented : as if the condi- 
tion of the Christian Church would be worse when there 
would be an end of all those shadows by which the bright- 
ness of Christ might be obscured. But afterwards this fury 
broke out more forcibly, and spread beyond all bounds. 

That we may not fall into this error, we ought always to 
be attentive to the present rule. Formerly incense, can- 
dles, holy garments, an altar, vessels, and ceremonies of this 
nature, pleased God ; and the reason was, that nothing is 
more precious or acceptable to Him than obedience. Now, 
since the coming of Christ, matters are entirely changed. 
We ought, therefore, to consider what he enjoins on us under 
the Gospel, that we may not follow at random what the Fathers 
observed under the Law ; for what was at that time a holy 
observation of the worship of God would now be a shocking 

The Samaritans were led astray by not considering, in the 
example of Jacob, how widely it differed from the condition 
of their own time. The Patriarchs were permitted to erect 
altars everywhere, because the place had not yet been fixed 
which the Lord afterwards selected ; but from the time that 

1 " A depuis ordonne et commande une autre conduite et maoicrc lie 
faire, qu'ila ont a suyvre." 


God ordered the temple to be built on mount Zion, the free- 
dom which they formerly enjoyed ceased. For this reason 
Moses said, Hereafter you shall not do every one ichat appears 
right in his own eyes, but only what I command you, (Deut. xii. 
8, 14 ;) for, from the time that the Lord gave the Law, he 
restricted the true worship of himself to the requirements of 
that Law, though formerly a greater degree of liberty was 
enjoyed. A similar pretence was offered by those who wor- 
shipped in Bethel ; for there Jacob had offered a solemn 
sacrifice to God, but after that the Lord had fixed the place 
of sacrifice at Jerusalem, it was no longer Bethel, the house of 
God, but Bethaven, the house of icickedness. 

We now see what was the state of the question. The 
Samaritans had the example of the Fathers for their rule : the 
Jews rested on the commandment of God. This woman, 
though hitherto she had followed the custom of her nation, 
was not altogether satisfied with it. By ivorship we are to 
understand here not any kind of worship, (for daily prayers 
might be offered in any place,) but that which was joined 
with sacrifices, and which constituted a public and solemn 
profession of religion. 

21. Woman, believe me. In the first part of this reply, he 
briefly sets aside the ceremonial worship which had been 
appointed under the Law ; for when he says that the hour is 
at hand when there shall be no peculiar and fixed place for 
icorship, he means that what Moses delivered was only for a 
time, and that the time was now approaching when the parti- 
tion-wall (Eph. ii. 14) should be thrown down. In this 
manner he extends the worship of God far beyond its former 
narrow limits, that the Samaritans might become partakers 
of it. 

The hour cometh. He uses the present tense instead of the 
future ; but the meaning is, that the repeal of the Law is 
already at hand, so far as relates to the Temple, and Priest- 
hood, and other outward ceremonies. By calling God Father, 
he seems indirectly to contrast Him with the Fathers whom 
the woman had mentioned, and to convey this instruction, 
that God will be a common Father to all, so that he will 


be generally worshipped without distinction of places or 

22. You worship what you know not, we worship what we know, for 
salvation is from the Jews. 23. But the hour cometh, and now is, when 
the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth ; for 
the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24. God is a Spirit, and they 
who worship him ought to worship in spirit and in truth. 25. The woman 
saith to him, I know that the Messiah will come, who is called Christ; 
therefore, when he shall come, he will tell you all things. 26. Jesus saith 
to her, It is I who talk with thee. 

He now explains more largely what he had briefly glanced 
at about the abolition of the Law ; but he divides the sub- 
stance of his discourse into two parts. In the former, he 
charges with superstition and error the form of worshipping 
God which had been used by the Samaritans, but testifies 
that the true and lawful form was observed by the Jews. 
And he assigns the cause of the difference, that from the word 
of God the Jews obtained certainty as to his worship, while 
the Samaritans received nothing certain from the mouth of 
God. In the second part, he declares that the ceremonies 
hitherto observed by the Jews would soon be at an end. 

22. You worship ichatyou know not, ice worship ichat we know. 
This is a sentence worthy of being remembered, and teaches 
us that we ought not to attempt any thing in religion rashly 
or at random ; because, unless there be knowledge, it is not 
God that we worship, but a phantom or idol. All good in- 
tentions, as they are called, are struck by this sentence, as by 
a thunderbolt ; for we learn from it, that men can do nothing 
but err, Avhen they are guided by their own opinion without 
the word or command of God. For Christ, defending the 
person and cause of his nation, shows that the Jews are widely 
different from the Samaritans. And why ? 

Became salvation is from the Jews. By these words he 
means that they have the superiority in this respect, that 
God had made with them a covenant of eternal salvation. 
Some restrict it to Christ, who was descended from the 
Jews ; and, indeed, since all the promises of God were con- 
firmed and ratified in him, (2 Cor. i. 20,) there is no salvation 


but in him. But as there can be no doubt that Christ gives 
the preference to the Jews on this ground, that they do not 
worship some unknown deity, but God alone, who revealed 
himself to them, and by whom they were adopted as his 
people ; by the word salvation we onght to understand that 
saving manifestation which had been made to them concern- 
ing the heavenly doctrine. 

But why does he say that it was from the Jews, when it 
was rather deposited with them, that they alone might enjoy 
it ? He alludes, in my opinion, to what had been predicted 
by the Prophets, that the Law icould go forth from Zion, (Isa. 
ii. 3 ; Mic. iv. 2,) for they were separated for a time from the 
rest of the nations on the express condition, that the pure 
knowledge of God should flow out from them to the whole 
world. It amounts to this, that God is not properly wor- 
shipped but by the certainty of faith, which cannot be pro- 
duced in any other way than by the word of God. Hence 
it follows that all who forsake the word fall into idolatry ; 
for Christ plainly testifies that an idol, or an imagination of 
their own brain, is substituted for God, when men are igno- 
rant of the true God ; and he charges with ignorance all to 
whom God has not revealed himself, for as soon as we are 
deprived of the light of his word, darkness and blindness 

It ought to be observed that the Jews, when they had 
treacherously set aside the covenant of eternal life which 
God had made with their fathers, were deprived of the trea- 
sure which they had till that time enjoyed ; for they had not 
yet been driven out of the Church of God. Now that they 
deny the Son, they have nothing in common with the Father ; 
for tohosoever denieth the Son hath not the Father, (1 John ii. 
23.) The same judgment must be formed concerning all who 
have turned aside from the pure faith of the Gospel to their 
own inventions and the traditions of men. Although they 
who worship God according to their own judgment or human 
traditions flatter and applaud themselves in their obstinacy, 
this single word, thundering from heaven, lays prostrate all 
that the}' imagine to be, divine and holy, You worship what 
you do not -know. It follows from this that, if we wish our 


religion to be approved by God, it must rest on knowledge 
obtained from His word. 

23. But the hour cometh. Now follows the latter clause, 
about repealing the worship, or ceremonies, 1 prescribed by 
the Law. When he says that the hour cometh, or icill come, 
he shows that the order laid down by Moses will not be per- 
petual. When he says that the hour is noiv come, he puts an 
end to the ceremonies, and declares that the time of reforma- 
tion, of which the Apostle speaks, (Heb. ix. 10,) has thus 
been fulfilled. Yet he approves of the Temple, the Priest- 
hood, and all the ceremonies connected with them, so far as 
relates to the past time. Again, to show that God does not 
choose to be worshipped either in Jerusalem or in mount 
Gerizzim, he takes a higher principle, that the true worship 
of Him consists in the spirit; for hence it follows that in all 
places He may be properly worshipped. 

But the first inquiry which presents itself here is, Why, 
and in what sense, is the worship of God called spiritual? 
To understand this, we must attend to the contrast between 
the spirit and outward emblems, as between the shadows and 
the truth. The worship of God is said to consist in the 
spirit, because it is nothing else than that inward faith of 
the heart which produces prayer, and, next, purity of con- 
science and self-denial, that we may be dedicated to obe- 
dience to God as holy sacrifices. 

Hence arises another question, Did not the Fathers wor- 
ship Him spiritually under the Law? I reply, as God is 
always like himself, he did not from the beginning of the 
world approve of any other worship than that which is spiri- 
tual, and which agrees with his own nature. This is abun- 
dantly attested by Moses himself, who declares in many pass- 
ages that the Law has no other object than that the people 
may cleave to God with faith and a pure conscience. But 
it is still more plainly declared by the Prophets when they 
attack with severity the hypocrisy of the people, because they 
thought that they had satisfied God, when they had performed 

1 " C'est a dire, dew ceremonies." 


the sacrifices and made an outward display. It is unnecessary 
to quote here many proofs which are to be found everywhere, 
but the most remarkable passages are the following : — Psalm 
1., Isaiah i., lviii., lxvi., Micah v., Amos vii. But while the 
worship of God under the Law was spiritual, it was envel- 
oped in so many outward ceremonies, that it resembled 
something carnal and earthly. For this reason Paul calls 
the ceremonies flesh and the beggarly elements of the world, 
(Gal. iv. 9.) In like manner, the author of the Epistle to 
the Hebrews says that the ancient sanctuary, with its appen- 
dages, was earthly, (Heb. ix. 1.) Thus we may justly say 
that the worship of the Law was spiritual in its substance, 
but, in respect of its form, it was somewhat earthly and car- 
nal ; for the whole of that economy, the reality of which is 
now fully manifested, consisted of shadows. 

We now see what the JeAvs had in common with us, and 
in what respect they differed from us. In all ages God 
wished to be worshipped by faith, prayer, thanksgiving, 
purity of heart, and innocence of life ; and at no time did he 
delight in any other sacrifices. But under the Law there 
were various additions, so that the spirit and truth were con- 
cealed under forms and shadows, whereas, now that the vail 
of the temple has been rent, (Matth. xxvii. 51,) nothing is hid- 
den or obscure. There are indeed among ourselves, in the 
present day, some outward exercises of godliness, which our 
weakness renders necessary, but such is the moderation and 
sobriety of them, that they do not obscure the plain truth of 
Christ. In short, what was exhibited to the fathers under 
figures and shadows is now openly displayed. 

Now in Popery this distinction is not only confounded, but 
altogether overturned ; for there the shadows are not less 
thick than they formerly were under the Jewish religion. 
It cannot be denied that Christ here lays down an obvious 
distinction between us and the Jews. Whatever may be the 
subterfuges by which the Papists attempt to escape, it is 
evident that we differ from the fathers in nothing more than 
outward form, because while they worshipped God spiritually, 
they were bound to perform ceremonies, which were abolished 
by the coming of Christ. Thus all who oppress the Church 


with an excessive multitude of ceremonies, do what is in their 
power to deprive the Church of the presence of Christ. I do 
not stop to examine the vain excuses which they plead, that 
many persons in the present day have as much need of those 
aids as the Jews had in ancient times. It is always our duty 
to inquire by what order the Lord wished his Church to be 
governed, for lie alone knows thoroughly what is expedient 
for us. Now it is certain that nothing is more at variance 
with the order appointed by God than the gross and singu- 
larly carnal pomp which prevails in Popery. The spirit was 
indeed concealed by the shadows of the Law, but the masks 
of Popery disfigure it altogether ; and, therefore, we must not 
wink at such gross and shameful corruptions. Whatever 
arguments may be employed by ingenious men, or by those 
who have not sufficient courage to correct vices — that they 
are doubtful matters, and ought to be held as indifferent — 
certainly it cannot be endured that the rule laid down by 
Christ shall be violated. 

The true worshippers. Christ appears indirectly to reprove 
the obstinacy of many, which was afterwards displayed ; for 
we know how obstinate and contentious the Jews were, when 
the Gospel was revealed, in defending the ceremonies to 
which they had been accustomed. But this statement has 
a still more extensive meaning ; for, knowing that the world 
would never be entirely free from superstitions, he thus sepa- 
rates the devout and upright worshippers from those who were 
false and hypocritical. Armed with this testimony, let us not 
hesitate to condemn the Papists in all their inventions, and 
boldly to despise their reproaches. For w r hat reason have 
we to fear, when we learn that God is pleased with this plain 
and simple worship, which is disdained by the Papists, be- 
cause it is not attended by a cumbrous mass of ceremonies ? 
And of what use to them is the idle splendour of the flesh, 
by which Christ declares that the Spirit is quenched ? What 
it is to icorsliip God in spirit and truth appears clearly from 
what has been already said. It is to lay aside the entangle- 
ments of ancient ceremonies, and to retain merely what is 
spiritual in the worship of God ; for the truth of the worship 
of God consists in the spirit, and ceremonies are but a sort of 


appendage. And here again it must be observed, that truth 
is not compared with falsehood, but with the outward addi- 
tion of the figures of the Law ; l so that — to use a common 
expression — it is the pure and simple substance of spiritual 

24. God is a Spirit. This is a confirmation drawn from 
the very nature of God. Since men are flesh, we ought not 
to wonder, if they take delight in those things which corre- 
spond to their own disposition. Hence it arises, that they 
contrive many things in the worship of God which are full 
of display, but have no solidity. But they ought first of all 
to consider that they have to do with God, who can no more 
agree with the flesh than fire with water. This single con- 
sideration, when the inquiry relates to the worship of God, 
ought to be sufficient for restraining the wantonness of our 
mind, that God is so far from being like us, that those things 
which please us most are the objects of his loathing and ab- 
horrence. And if hypocrites are so blinded by their own pride, 
that they are not afraid to subject God to their opinion, or 
rather to their unlawful desires, let us know that this modesty 
does not hold the lowest place in the true worship of God, to 
regard with suspicion Avhatever is gratifying according to the 
flesh. Besides, as we cannot ascend to the height of God, let 
us remember that we ought to seek from His word the rule 
by which we are governed. This passage is frequently quoted 
by the Fathers against the Arians, to prove the Divinity of 
the Holy Spirit, but it is improper to strain it for such a 
purpose ; for Christ simply declares here that his Father is of 
a spiritual nature, and, therefore, is not moved by frivolous 
matters, as men, through the lightness and unsteadiness of 
their character, are wont to be. 

25. The Messiah is about to come. Although religion among 
the Samaritans was corrupted and mixed up with many errors, 
yet some principles taken from the Law were impressed on 
their minds, such as that which related to the Messiah. Now 

1 " Des figures de la Loy." 


it is probable that, when the woman ascertained from Christ's 
discourse that a very extraordinary change was about to take 
place in the Church of God, her mind instantly recurred to 
the recollection of Christ, under whom she hoped that all 
things would be fully restored. When she says that the 
Messiah is about to come, she seems to speak of the time as 
near at hand ; and, indeed, it is sufficiently evident from many 
arguments, that the minds of men were everywhere aroused 
by the expectation of the Messiah, who would restore the 
affairs which were wretchedly decayed, or rather, which were 
utterly ruined. 

This, at least, is beyond all controversy, that the woman 
prefers Christ to Moses and to all the Prophets in the office 
of teaching ; for she comprehends three things in a few words. 
First, that the doctrine of the Law was not absolutely perfect, 
and that nothing more than first principles was delivered in 
it ; for if there had not been some farther progress to be 
made, she would not have said that the Messiah will tell us all 
things. There is an implied contrast between him and the 
Prophets, that it is his peculiar office to conduct his disciples 
to the goal, while the Prophets had only given them the 
earliest instructions, and, as it were, led them into the course. 
Secondly, the woman declares that she expects such a Christ 
as will be the interpreter of his Father, and the teacher and 
instructor of all the godly. Lastly, she expresses her belief 
that we ought not to desire any thing better or more perfect 
than his doctrine, but that, on the contrary, this is the farthest 
object of wisdom, beyond which it is unlawful to proceed. 

I wish that those who now boast of being the pillars of the 
Christian Church, would at least imitate this poor woman, so 
as to be satisfied with the simple doctrine of Christ, rather 
than claim I know not what power of superintendence for 
putting forth their inventions. For whence was the religion 
of the Pope and Mahomet collected but from the wicked 
additions, by which they imagined that they brought the 
doctrine of the Gospel to a state of perfection ? As if it 
would have been incomplete without such fooleries. But 
whoever shall be well taught in the school of Christ will ask 
no other instructors, and indeed will not receive them. 


26. It is I xoho talk icith thee. When lie acknowledges to 
the woman that he is the Messiah, he unquestionably presents 
himself as her Teacher, in compliance with the expectation 
which she had formed ; and, therefore, I think it probable, 
that he proceeded to give more full instruction, in order to 
satisfy her thirst. Such a proof of his grace he intended to 
give in the case of this poor woman, that he might testify to 
all that he never fails to discharge his office, when we desire 
to have him for our Teacher. There is, therefore, no danger 
that he will disappoint one of those whom he finds ready to 
become his disciples. But they who refuse to submit to him, 
as we see done by many haughty and irreligious men, or who 
hope to find elsewhere a wisdom more perfect — as the Maho- 
metans andPapists do — deserve to be driven about by innumer- 
able enchantments, and at length to be plunged in an abyss 
of errors. Again, by these words, " i" who talk with thee am 
the Messiah, the Son of God," he employs the name Messiah 
as a seal to ratify the doctrine of his Gospel ; for we must 
remember that he was anointed by the Father, and that the 
Spirit of God rested on him, that he might bring to us the 
message of salvation, as Isaiah declares, (lxi. 1.) 

27. And, in the meantime, his disciples came, and wondered that he 
talked with the woman. But no man said, What seekest thou, or Avhy 
talkest thou with her? 28. The woman, therefore, left her pitcher, and 
went away into the city, and said to the men, 29. Come, and see a man 
who hath told me all things that I ever did : is not this the Christ ? 30. 
They went out of the city, therefore, and came to him. 31. In the mean- 
time his disciples asked him, saying, Master, eat. 32. But he said to 
them, I have food to eat which you know not. 33. The disciples, therefore, 
said among themselves, Hath any man brought him any thing to eat? 
34. Jesus saith to them, My food is, to do the will of him who sent me, 
and to finish his work. 

27. His disciples came, and icondered. That the disciples 
icondered, as the Evangelist relates, might arise from one of 
two causes ; either that they were offended at the mean con- 
dition of the woman, or that they reckoned the Jews to be 
polluted, if they entered into conversation with the Samari- 
tans. Now though both of these feelings proceeded from a 
devout reverence for their Master, yet they are wrong in 
wondering at it as an improper thing, that he deigns to 


bestow so great honour on a woman who was utterly despised. 
For why do they not rather look at themselves? They 
would certainly have found no less reason to be astonished, 
that they who were men of no note, and almost the off- 
scourings of the people, were raised to the highest rank of 
honour. And yet it is useful to observe what the Evangelist 
says — that they did not venture to put a question ; for we 
are taught by their example that, if any thing in the works 
or w r ords of God and of Christ be disagreeable to our feel- 
ings, we ought not to give ourselves a loose rein so as to 
have the boldness to murmur, but ought to preserve a modest 
silence, until what is hidden from us be revealed from heaven. 
The foundation of such modesty lies in the fear of God and 
in reverence for Christ. 

28. Therefore the woman left her pitcher. This circum- 
stance is related by the Evangelist to express the ardour of 
her zeal ; for it is an indication of haste, that she leaves her 
pitcher, and returns to the city. And this is the nature of 
faith, that when we have become partakers of eternal life, 
we wish to bring others to share with us ; nor is it possible 
that the knowledge of God shall lie buried and inactive in 
our hearts without being manifested before men, for that 
saying must be true : / believed, and therefore I ivill speak, 
(Psalm cxvi. 10.) The earnestness and promptitude of the 
woman are so much the more worthy of attention, that it 
was only a small spark of faith that kindled them; for 
scarcely had she tasted Christ when she spi*eads his fame 
throughout the whole city. In those who have already made 
moderate progress in his school, sluggishness will be highly 
disgraceful. But she may appear to deserve blame on this 
account, that while she is still ignorant and imperfectly 
taught, she goes beyond the limits of her faith. I reply, she 
would have acted inconsiderately, if she had assumed the 
office of a teacher, but when she desires nothing more than 
to excite her fellow-citizens to hear Christ speaking, we will 
not say that she forgot herself, or proceeded farther than she 
had a right to do. She merely does the office of a trumpet 
or a bell to invite others to come to Christ. 


29. See a man. As she here speaks doubtfully, she might 
appear not to have been greatly moved by the authority of 
Christ. I reply, as she was not qualified to discourse about 
such high mysteries, she endeavours, according to her feeble 
capacity, to bring her fellow-citizens to permit themselves to 
be taught by Christ. It was a very powerful stimulant 
which she employed to excite them, when she knew, by a 
sign which was not obscure or doubtful, that he was a pro- 
phet ; for, since they could not form a judgment from his doc- 
trine, this lower preparation was useful and well adapted to 
them. Having, therefore, learned that Christ had revealed 
to the woman things which were hidden, they infer from it 
that he is a Prophet of God. This having been ascertained, 
they begin to attend to his doctrine. But the woman goes 
farther ; for she bids them inquire if he be not the Messiah, 
being satisfied if she could only persuade them to seek, of 
their own accord, what she had already found in Christ ; for 
she knew that they would find more than she promised. 

Who told me all things that ever I did. Why does she tell 
a lie, by saying that Christ told her all things ? I have already 
shown that Christ did not reprove her for a single instance of 
fornication, but that he placed before her, in a few words, many 
sins of her whole life. For the Evangelist has not minutely 
recorded every sentence, but states generally that Christ, in 
order to repress the woman's talkativeness, brought forward 
her former and present life. Yet we see that the woman, 
kindled by a holy zeal, does not spare herself, or her reputa- 
tion, to magnify the name of Christ : for she does not scruple 
to relate the disgraceful passages of her life. 

32. I have food to eat which you know not. It is wonderful 
that, when he is fatigued and hungry, he refuses to eat ; for 
if it be said that he does this for the purpose of instructing 
us, by his example, to endure hunger, why then did he not 
do so always ? But he had another object than to say that 
we ought simply to refuse food ; for we must attend to this 
circumstance, that his anxiety about the present business 
urges him so strongly, and absorbs his whole mind, so that 
it gives him no uneasiness to despise food. And yet he does 


not say that he is so eager to obey the commands of hit 
Father, that he neither eats nor drinks. He only points out 
what he must do first, and what must be done afterwards ; 
and thus he shows, by his example, that the kingdom of 
God ought to be preferred to all the comforts of the body. 
God allows us, indeed, to eat and drink, provided that we 
are not withdrawn from what is of the highest importance ; 
that is, that every man attend to his own calling. 

It will perhaps be said, that eating and drinking cannot 
but be avocations which withdraw some portion of our time 
that might be better employed. This I acknowledge to be 
true, but as the Lord kindly permits us to take care of our 
body, so far as necessity requires, he who endeavours to 
nourish his body with sobriety and moderation does not fail 
to give that preference which he ought to give to obedience 
to God. But we must also take care not to adhere so firmly 
to our fixed hours, as not to be prepared to deprive ourselves 
of food, when God holds out to us any opportunity, and, as 
it were, fixes the present hour. Christ, having now in his 
hands such an opportunity which might pass away, embraces 
it with open arms, and holds it fast. When the present duty 
enjoined on him by the Father presses him so hard that he 
finds it necessary to lay aside every thing else, he does not 
scruple to delay taking food ; and, indeed, it would have been 
unreasonable that, when the woman left her pitcher and ran 
to call the people, Christ should display less zeal. In short, 
if we propose it as our object not to lose the causes of life on 
account of life itself, it will not be difficult to preserve the 
proper medium ; for he who shall place it before him as the 
end of life to serve the Lord, from which we are not at liberty 
to turn aside even for the immediate danger of death, will 
certainly reckon it to be of more value than eating and 
drinking. The metaphor of eating and drinking is so much 
the more graceful on this occasion, that it was drawn sea- 
sonably from the present discourse. 

34. My food is to do the icill ofhvn who sent me. He means 
not only that he esteems it very highly, but that there is 
VOL. i. L 


nothing in which he takes greater delight, or in which he is 
more cheerfully or more eagerly employed; as David, in 
order to magnify the Law of God, says not only that he 
values it highly, but that it is sweeter than honey, (Psalm xix. 
10.) If, therefore, we would follow Christ, it is proper not 
only that we devote ourselves diligently to the service of God, 
but that we be so cheerful in complying with its injunctions 
that the labour shall not be at all oppressive or disagreeable. 
That I may finish his work. By adding these words, Christ 
fully explains what is that will of the Father to which he is 
devoted ; namely, to fulfil the commission which had been 
given to him. Thus every man ought to consider his own 
calling, that he may not consider as done to God what he 
has rashly undertaken at his own suggestion. What was 
the office of Christ is well known. It was to advance the 
kingdom of God, to restore to life lost souls, to spread the 
light of the Gospel, and, in short, to bring salvation to the 
world. The excellence of these things caused him, when 
fatigued and hungry, to forget meat and drink. Yet we 
derive from this no ordinary consolation, when we learn that 
Christ was so anxious about the salvation of men, that it gave 
him the highest delight to procure it ; for we cannot doubt 
that he is now actuated by similar feelings towards us. 

35. Do you not say, There are yet four months, and harvest will come ? 
Lo, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look at the fields, for they are 
ah-eady white for harvest. 36. And he who reapeth receiveth reward, 
and gathereth fruit into life eternal ; that both he that soweth, and he 
that reapeth, may rejoice together. 37. For in this is the saying true, 
That there is one who soweth, and another who reapeth. 38. I sent you 
to reap that on which you did not labour ; other men laboured, and you 
have entered into their labours. 

35. Do you not say ? He follows out the preceding state- 
ment ; for, having said that nothing was more dear to him 
than to finish the icork of the Father, he now shows how ripe 
it is for execution ; and he does so by a comparison with the 
harvest. When the corn is ripe, the harvest cannot bear 
delay, for otherwise the grain would fall to the ground and 
be lost ; and, in like manner, the spiritual corn being now 
ripe, he declares that there must be no delay, because delay 


is injurious. AVe see for what purpose the comparison is 
employed ; it is to explain the reason why he hastens to per- 
form his work. 1 By this expression, Do you not say ? he 
intended indirectly to point out how much more attentive 
the minds of men are to earthly than to heavenly things ; for 
they burn with so intense a desire of harvest that they care- 
fully reckon up months and days, but it is astonishing how 
drowsy and indolent they are in gathering the heavenly 
wheat. And daily experience proves that this wickedness 
not only is natural to us, but can scarcely be torn from our 
hearts ; for while all provide for the earthly life to a distant 
period, how indolent are we in thinking about heavenly 
things ? Thus Christ says on another occasion, Hypocrites, 
you discern by the face of the sky what sort of day to-morrow 
will be, but you do not acknowledge the time of my visitation, 
(Matth. xvi. 3.) 

36. And he who reapeth receiveth reward. How diligently 
we ought to devote ourselves to the work of God, he proves 
by another argument; namely, because a large and most 
excellent reward is reserved for our labour ; for he promises 
that there will be fruit, and fruit not corruptible or fading. 
What he adds about fruit may be explained in two ways; 
either it is an announcement of the reward, and on that suppo- 
sition he would say the same thing twice in different words ; 
or, he applauds the labours of those who enrich the kingdom 
of God, as we shall afterwards find him repeating, / liave 
chosen you, that you may go and bear fruit, and that your fruit 
may remain, (John xv. 16.) And certainly both considera- 
tions ought greatly to encourage the ministers of the word, 
that they may never sink under the toil, when they hear that 
a crown of glory is prepared for them in heaven, and know 
that the fruit of their harvest will not only be precious in the 
sight of God, but will also be eternal. It is for this purpose 
that Scripture everywhere mentions reward, and not for the 
purpose of leading us to judge from it as to the merits of 
works ; for which of us, if we come to a reckoning, will not be 

1 " Pour exprimer la cause pourquoy il se haste de fairc la besogne." 


found more worthy of being punished for slothfulness than of 
being rewarded for diligence ? To the best labourers nothing 
else will be left than to approach to God in all humility to 
implore forgiveness. But the Lord, who acts towards us 
with the kindness of a father, in order to correct our sloth, 
and to encourage us who would otherwise be dismayed, 
deigns to bestow upon us an undeserved reward. 

This is so far from overturning justification by faith that 
it rather confirms it. For, in the first place, how comes it 
that God finds in us any thing to reward, but because He 
has bestowed it upon us by his Spirit ? Now we know that 
the Spirit is the earnest and pledge of adoption, (Eph. i. 14.) 
Secondly, how comes it that God confers so great honour on 
imperfect and sinful works but because, after having by free 
grace reconciled us to himself, He accepts our works without 
any regard to merit, by not imputing the sins which cleave 
to them ? The amount of this passage is, that the labour 
which the Apostles bestow on teaching ought not to be 
reckoned by them hard and unpleasant, since they knoAv that 
it is so useful and so advantageous to Christ and to the 

That he who soweth, and he who reapelh, may rejoice together. 
By these words Christ shows that the fruit which the Apos- 
tles will derive from the labours of others cannot give just 
ground of complaint to any person. And this additional 
statement deserves notice ; for if in the world the groans of 
those who complain that the fruit of their labour has been 
conveyed to another do not hinder the new possessor from 
cheerfully reaping what another has sown, how much more 
cheerful ought the reapers to be, when there is mutual con- 
sent and mutual joy and congratulation ? 

But, in order that this passage may be properly understood, 
we must comprehend the contrast between sowing and reaping. 
The sowing was the doctrine of the Law and the Prophets ; 
for at that time the seed thrown into the soil remained, as it 
were, in the blade; but the doctrine of the Gospel, which 
brings men to proper maturity, is on that account justly 
compared to the harvest. For the Law was very far from 
that perfection which has at length been exhibited to us in 


Christ. To the same purpose is the well-known comparison 
between infancy and manhood which Paul employs, when he 
says, that the heir, as long as he is a child, diffcrcth not from a 
servant, though he he lord of all, hut is under tutors and governors 
until the time appointed bg the father, (Gal. iv. 1, 2.) In short, 
since the coming of Christ brought along with it present sal- 
vation, we need not wonder if the Gospel, by which the door 
of the heavenly kingdom is opened, be called the harvest of 
the doctrine of the Prophets. And yet it is not at all incon- 
sistent with this statement, that the Fathers under the Law 
were gathered into God's barn ; but this comparison must be 
referred to the manner of teaching ; for, as the infancy of the 
Church lasted to the end of the Law, but, as soon a3 the 
Gospel had been preached, it immediately arrived at manhood, 
so at that time the salvation began to ripen, of which the 
sowing only had been accomplished by the Prophets. 

But, as Christ delivered this discourse in Samaria, he ap- 
pears to extend the sowing more widely than to the Law and 
the Prophets ; and there are some who interpret these words 
as applying equally to the Jews and to the Gentiles. I ac- 
knowledge, indeed, that some grains of piety were always 
scattered throughout the whole world, and there can be no 
doubt that — if we may be allowed the expression — God sowed, 
by the hand of philosophers and profane writers, the excellent 
sentiments which are to be found in their writings. But, as 
that seed was degenerated from the very root, and as the corn 
which could spring from it, though not good or natural, was 
choked by a huge mass of errors, it is unreasonable to suppose 
that such destructive corruption is compared to solving. Be- 
sides, what is here said about uniting in joy cannot at all 
apply to philosophers or any persons of that class. 

Still, the difficulty is not yet solved, for Christ makes 
special reference to the Samaritans. I reply, though every- 
thing among them was infected by corruptions, there still was 
some hidden seed of piety. For whence does it arise that, 
as soon as they hear a word about Christ, they are so eager 
to seek him, but because they had learned, from the Law and 
the Prophets, that the Redeemer would come ? Judea was 
indeed the Lord's peculiar field, which he had cultivated by 


the Prophets, but, as some small portion of seed had been 
carried into Samaria, it is not without reason that Christ says 
that there also it reached maturity. If it be objected that 
the Apostles were chosen to publish the Gospel throughout 
the whole world, the reply is easy, that Christ spoke in a 
manner suited to the time, with this exception, that, on account 
of the expectation of the fruit which already was nearly ripe, 
he commends in the Samaritans the seed of prophetic doctrine, 
though mixed and blended with many weeds or corruptions. 1 

37. For in this is the saying true. This was a common 
proverb, by which he showed that many men frequently re- 
ceive the fruit of the labour of others, though there was this 
difference, that he who has laboured is displeased at seeing 
the fruit carried away by another, whereas the Apostles have 
the Prophets for the companions of their joy. And yet it 
cannot be inferred from this, that the Prophets themselves 
are witnesses, or are aware, of what is now going on in the 
Church ; for Christ means nothing more than that the Pro- 
phets, so long as they lived, taught under the influence of 
such feelings, that they already rejoiced on account of the 
fruit which they were not permitted to gather. The com- 
parison which Peter employs (1 Peter i. 12) is not unlike ; 
except that he addresses his exhortation generally to all be- 
lievers, but Christ here speaks to the disciples alone, and, in 
their person, to the ministers of the Gospel. By these words 
he enjoins them to throw their labours into a common stock, 
so that there may be no wicked envy among them ; that those 
who are first sent to the work ought to be so attentive to the 
present cultivation as not to envy a greater blessing to those 
who are afterwards to follow them ; and that they who are 
sent, as it were, to gather the ripe fruit, ought to be employed 
with equal cheerfulness in their office ; for the comparison 
which is here made between the teachers of the Law and of 
the Gospel may likewise be applied to the latter, when viewed 
in reference to each other. 

" C'est & dire, dc corruptions." 


39. And many Samaritans out of that city believed in him on account 
of the saying of the -woman, who testified, I told you all things that ever 
I did. 40. When the Samaritans, therefore, came to him, they entreated 
him to remain with them ; and he remained two days. 41 . And many 
more believed on account of his word ; 42. And said to the woman, We 
no longer believe on account of thy speech ; for we ourselves have heard, 
and know, that this is actually the Christ, the Saviour of the world. 43. 
And after two days he departed, and went away into Galilee. 44. For 
Jesus himself testified, 1 that a Prophet hath no honour in his own country. 
45. And when he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, who had 
seen 2 all that he did in Jerusalem on the feast-day ; tor they had also come 
to the feast-day. 

39. And many Samaritans out of that city believed. The 
Evangelist here relates what was the success of the woman's 
announcement to her citizens, from which it is evident that 
the expectation and desire of the promised Messiah had no 
small vigour among them. Now, the word believe is here 
used inaccurately, and means that they were induced by the 
woman's statement to acknowledge Christ to be a Prophet. 
It is, in some respects, a commencement of faith, when minds 
are prepared to receive the doctrine. Such an entrance to 
faith receives here the honourable appellation of faith, in order 
to inform us how highly God esteems reverence for his word, 
when he confers so great honour on the docility of those who 
have not yet been taught. Now, their faith manifests itself 
in this respect, that they are seized with a desire to profit, 
and, for that reason, desire that Christ should remain with 

41. And many more believed. From what followed it is 
evident that Christ's compliance with their wish was highly 
proper ; for we see how much fruit was reaped from the two 
days which he granted to their request. By this example we 
are taught that we ought never to refrain from working, when 
we have it in our power to advance the kingdom of God ; and 
if we are afraid that our readiness in complying may be liable 
to unfavourable reports, or may often prove to be useless, let 
us ask from Christ the Spirit of counsel to direct us. The 
w r ord believe is now used in a different sense ; for it means not 

" Ou, Jesus avoit rendu tesmoignar/e ;" — u or, Jesus had testified" 
" Apres qu'ils eussenl veil ;" — " after that they had seen." 


only that they were prepared for faith, but that they actually 
had a proper faith. 

42. On account of thy speech. Though I have followed 
Erasmus in rendering this word by oratio, (speech,) because 
loquela, which the ancient interpreter uses, is a barbarous 
terra ; yet I wish to warn my readers that the Greek word 
XaXia has the same meaning Avith the Latin word loquentia, 
that is, talk, or talkativeness; and the Samaritans appear to 
boast that they have now a stronger foundation than a woman's 
tongue, which is, for the most part, light and trivial. 

We believe. This expresses more fully the nature of their 
faith, that it has been drawn from the word of God itself, so 
that they can boast of having the Son of God as their 
Teacher ; as, indeed, it is on his authority alone that we can 
safely rely. True, indeed, he is not now visibly present, so 
as to speak to us mouth to mouth ; but, by whomsoever we 
happen to hear him, our faith cannot rest on any other than 
on himself. And from no other source proceeds that knoiv- 
ledge which is likewise mentioned ; for the speech which 
comes from the mouth of a mortal man may indeed fill and 
satisfy the ears, but will never confirm the soul in calm con- 
fidence of salvation, so that he who has heard may be entitled 
to boast that he knows. In faith, therefore, the first thing 
necessary is, to knoiv that it is Christ who speaks by his 
ministers ; and the next is, to give him the honour which is 
due ; that is, not to doubt that he is true and faithful, so that, 
relying on so undoubted a guarantee, we may rely safely on 
his doctrine. 

Again, when they affirm that Jesus is the Christ and the 
Saviour of the world, they undoubtedly have learned this from 
hearing him. Hence we infer that, within two days, the 
sum of the Gospel was more plainly taught by Christ than 
he had hitherto taught it in Jerusalem. And Christ testified 
that the salvation, which he had brought, was common to the 
whole world, that they might understand more fully that it 
belonged to them also ; for he did not call them on the 
ground of their being lawful heirs, as the Jews were, 1 but 
1 " Ainsi qu'estoyent les Juifs." 


taught that he had come to admit strangers into the family 
of God, and to bring peace to those who were far off, (Eph. 
ii. 17.) 

44. For Jesus himself testified. The apparent contradiction 
which strikes us here at first sight, has given rise to various 
interpretations. There is an excess of subtlety in the expla- 
nation given by Augustine, that Christ was iciihout honour 
among his oxen countrymen, because he had done more good 
among the Samaritans in two dags only than he had done, in 
a long time, among the Galileans ; and because, without 
miracles, he gained more disciples in Samaria than a great 
number of miracles had gained him in Galilee. Nor am I 
satisfied with the view of Chrysostom, who understands Christ's 
country to be Capernaum, because he dwelt there more fre- 
quently than in any other place. I rather agree with Cyril, 
who says that he left the city of Nazareth, and departed into 
a different part of Galilee ; for the other three Evangelists 
mention Nazareth, when they relate this testimony of Christ. 
The meaning might indeed be that, while the time of full 
manifestation was not yet come, he chose to remain concealed 
in his native country, as in a more obscure retreat. Some, 
too, explain it to mean, that he remained two dags in Samaria, 
because there was no reason why he should hasten to go to a 
place where contempt awaited him. Others think that he 
went straight to Nazareth, and immediately left it ; but, as 
John relates nothing of this sort, I do not venture to yield to 
that conjecture. A more correct view of it is, that when he 
saw himself despised in his native city Nazareth, he rather 
withdrew to another place. And, therefore, it immediately 
follows (ver. 46) that he came into the town of Cana. AVhat 
is next added — that the Galileans received him — was a token 
of reverence, not of contempt. 

A Prophet hath no honour in his own countrg. I have no 

doubt that this saying was common, and had passed into a 

proverb ; l and we know that proverbs are intended to be a 

graceful expression of what commonly and most frequently 

' " Commune, et qui etoit passce en proveibe.'' 


(stI rb mXi) happens. In such cases, therefore, it is not neces- 
sary that we should rigidly demand uniform accuracy, as if 
what is stated in a proverb were always true. It is certain 
that prophets are usually more admired elsewhere than in their 
own country. Sometimes, too, it may happen, and in reality 
does happen, that a prophet is not less honoured by his coun- 
trymen than by strangers ; but the proverb states what is 
common and ordinary, that prophets receive honour more 
readily in any other place than among their own countrymen. 
Now this proverb, and the meaning of it, may have a two- 
fold origin ; for it is a universal fault, that those whom we 
have heard crying in the cradle, and whom we have seen 
acting foolishly in their boyhood, are despised by us through- 
out their whole life, as if they had made no progress, since 
they were boys. To this is added another evil — envy, which 
prevails more among acquaintances. But I think it probable 
that the proverb arose from this circumstance, that Prophets 
were so ill-treated by their own nation ; for good and holy 
men, when they perceived that there was in Judea so great 
ingratitude towards God, so great contempt of his word, so 
great obstinacy, might justly utter this complaint, that no- 
where are the Prophets of God less honoured than in their 
own country. If the former meaning be preferred, the name 
Prophet must be understood generally to denote any teacher, 
as Paul calls Epimenides a prophet of the Cretians, (Tit. i. 

45. The Galileans received him. Whether or not this honour 
was of long duration we have not the means of determining ; 
for there is nothing to which men are more prone than for- 
getfulness of the gifts of God. Nor does John relate this 
with any other design than to inform us that Christ performed 
miracles in presence of many witnesses, so that the report of 
them was spread far and wide. Again, this points out one 
advantage of miracles, that they prepare the way for doctrine ; 
for they cause reverence to be paid to Christ. 

46. Jesus therefore came again into Cana of Galilee, where he had 
turned the water into wine. And there was a certain courtier, whose son 
was diseased, in Capernaum. 47. When he heard that Jesus had come 


from Judea into Galilee, be went away to him, and entreated him to go 
down and cure his son ; for he was near death. 48. Jesus therefore said 
to him, Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe. 49. The 
courtier himself said to him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50. Jesus 
said to him, Go, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus 
had spoken to him, and went away. 51. And while he was still going 
down, his servants met and informed him, saying, Thy son liveth. 52. 
Then he asked them at what hour he recovered ; and they said to him, 
Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53. The father there- 
fore knew that it was the same hour at which Jesus had said to him, Thy 
son liveth. And he believed, nnd all his house. 54. This second miracle 
did Jesus again, when he had come out of Judea into Galilee. 

46. And there was a certain courtier. This is a more correct 
rendering, though Erasmus thinks differently, who has trans- 
lated fiaeiXtxog by a Latin word, Begulus, which means a little 
king. 1 I acknowledge indeed that, at that time, they gave 
the name of Reguli (or, little kings) to those Avho are now called 
Dukes, or Barons, or Earls ; but the state of Galilee at that 
time was such that there could be no person of that rank 
dwelling in Capernaum. I think that he was some nobleman 2 
of the court of Herod ; for there is some plausibility in the 
opinion of those who think that he was sent by Cesar. 3 This 
is expressly mentioned by the Evangelist, because the rank 
of this personage made the miracle the more illustrious. 

47. When he had heard that Jesus had come. When he 
applies to Christ for aid, this is some evidence of his faith ; 
but, when he limits Christ's manner of granting assistance, 
that shows how ignorant he was. For he views the power of 
Christ as inseparably connected with his bodily presence, 
from which it is evident, that he had formed no other view 
concerning Christ than this, — that he was a Prophet sent 
by God with such authority and power as to prove, by the 
performance of miracles, that he was a minister of God. 
This fault, though it deserved censure, Christ overlooks, but 
severely upbraids him, and, indeed, all the Jews in general, 
on another ground, that they were too eager to behold 

1 " Lequel l*a traduit par un mot Latin Regulus, qui signifie un petit 

2 " Quelque gentil-homme." 

3 " Par l'Empereur ; " — "by the Emperor." 


But how comes it that Christ is now so harsh, who is wont 
to receive kindly others who desire miracles ? There must 
have been at that time some particular reason, J;hough un- 
known to us, why he treated this man with a degree of 
severity which was not usual with him ; and perhaps he looked 
not so much to the person as to the whole nation. He saw 
that his doctrine had no great authority, and was not only 
neglected but altogether despised ; and, on the other hand, 
that all had their eyes fixed on miracles, and that their whole 
senses were seized with stupidity rather than with admiration. 
Thus, the wicked contempt of the word of God, which at 
that time prevailed, constrained him to make this complaint. 

True, indeed, some even of the saints sometimes wished to 
be confirmed by miracles, that they might not entertain any 
doubt as to the truth of the promises ; and we see how God, 
by kindly granting their requests, showed that he was not 
offended at them. But Christ describes here far greater 
wickedness ; for the Jews depended so much on miracles, 
that they left no room for the word. And first, it was ex- 
ceedingly wicked that they were so stupid and carnal as to 
have no reverence for doctrine, unless they had been aroused 
by miracles ; for they must have been well acquainted with 
the word of God, in which they had been educated from their 
infancy. Secondly, when miracles were performed, they were 
so far from profiting aright, that they remained in a state of 
stupidity and amazement. Thus they had no religion, no 
knowledge of God, no practice of godliness, except what con- 
sisted in miracles. 

To the same purpose is that reproach which Paul brings 
against them, the Jews demand signs, (1 Cor. i. 22.) For he 
means that they were unreasonably and immoderately attached 
to signs, and cared little about the grace of Christ, or the 
promises of eternal life, or the secret power of the Spirit, but, 
on the contrary, rejected the Gospel with haughty disdain, 
because they had no relish for any thing but miracles. I 
wish there were not many persons in the present day affected 
by the same disease; but nothing is more common than this 
saying, " Let them first perform miracles, 1 and then we will 
' " Qu'ils/acent premierement des miracles." 


lend an ear to their doctrine ;" as if we ought to despise and 
disdain the truth of Christ, unless it derive support from some 
other quarter. But though God were to overwhelm them by 
a Huge mass of miracles, still they speak falsely when they 
say that they would believe. Some outward astonishment 
would be produced, but they would not be a whit more atten- 
tive to doctrine. 

49. Sir, come down, ere my child die. Since he perseveres 
in asking, and at length obtains what he wished, we may con- 
clude that Christ did not reprove him in such a manner as if 
he intended altogether to reject him, and refused his prayers ; 
but that he rather did so for the purpose of correcting that 
fault which obstructed the entrance of true faith. And we 
ought to remember — what I have formerly stated — that this 
was a general reproof of a whole people, and was not pecu- 
liarly addressed to one individual. In this manner, what- 
ever is improper, or distorted, or superfluous, in our prayers, 
must be corrected or removed, that dangerous obstructions 
may be taken out of the way. Now courtiers are usually 
fastidious and haughty, and do not willingly submit to be 
treated with harshness ; but it deserves notice, that this 
man, humbled by his necessitous case, and by the dread of 
losing his son, does not burst into a passion, or murmur, 
when Christ speaks to him roughly, but passes by that reproof 
in modest silence. We find the same things in ourselves ; 
for we are astonishingly delicate, impatient, and fretful until, 
subdued by adversities, we are constrained to lay aside our 
pride and disdain. 

50. Thy son liveth. The first thing that strikes us here is, 
the astonishing kindness and condescension of Christ, that he 
bears with the man's ignorance, and stretches his power 
beyond what had been expected. He requested that Christ 
would come to the place and cure his son. He thought it 
possible that his son could be freed from sickness and disease, 
but not that he could be raised up after he was dead ; and 
therefore he urges Christ to make haste, that his son's 
recovery may not be prevented by his death. Accordingly, 


when Christ pardons both, we may conclude from it how 
highly he values even a small measure of faith. It is worthy 
of observation that Christ, while he does not comply with 
his desire, grants much more than he had requested ; for he 
testifies as to the present health of his son. Thus it fre- 
quently happens that our Heavenly Father, while he 
does not comply with our wishes in every particular, pro- 
ceeds to relieve us by unexpected methods, that we may 
learn not to prescribe to him in anything. When he says, 
Thy son liveth, he means that he has been rescued from the 
danger of death. 

The man believed the word which Jesus had spoken to him. 
Having come with the conviction that Christ was a prophet 
of God, he was on that account so much disposed to believe, 
that, as soon as he had heard a single word, he seized it and 
fixed it in his heart. Though he did not entertain all the 
respect that he ought for the poAver of Christ, yet a short 
promise suddenly awoke new confidence in his mind, so that 
he believed the life of his son to be contained in a single 
word of Christ. And such is the promptitude with which 
we ought to receive the word of God, but it is very far from 
producing always so immediate an effect on the hearers. For 
how many will you find that profit as much by many sermons 
as this man, who was half a heathen, profited by hearing a single 
word ? So much the more ought we to labour with zeal to 
arouse our sluggishness, and, above all, to pray that God 
would touch our hearts in such a manner, that we may not be 
less willing to believe than He is ready and gracious to 

51. While he icas still going doion. Here is described the 
effect of faith, together with the efficacy of the word ; for as 
Christ, by a word, restores to life this child who was just 
dying, so in one moment the father, by his faith, regains his 
son safe and sound. Let us therefore know that, whenever 
the Lord offers his benefits to us, his power will always be 
ready to accomplish whatever he promises, provided that the 
door be not shut against him by our unbelief. It does not 
always happen, I acknowledge, and even is not frequent or 


ordinary, that God instantly displays his arm for giving us 
assistance ; but whenever he delays, he has always a good 
reason, and one that is highly advantageous to us. This at 
least is certain, that so far is he from delaying unnecessarily, 
that he rather contends with the obstacles which we throw in 
the way ; and, therefore, when we do not see his immediate 
aid, let us consider how much of concealed distrust there is 
in us, or at least how small and limited our faith is. And we 
ought not to wonder if He is unwilling to allow his benefits 
to be lost, or to throw them at random on the ground, but 
chooses to bestow them on those who, by opening the bosom 
of their faith, are ready to receive them. And though he 
does not always assist his people in the same manner, yet in 
no instance will the faith of any one be fruitless, or hinder us 
from experiencing the truth of what the Prophet says, that 
the promises of God, even -when they seem to delay, are in 
reality making great haste. Though it tarry, wait for it ; 
because it will surely come, it will not tarry, (Hab. ii. 3.) 

52. Therefore he inquired at them. That this courtier 
asked his servants at what time his son began to recover, 
was done by a secret impulse from God, that the truth of 
the miracle might be rendered more conspicuous. For by 
nature we have an exceedingly wicked disposition to extin- 
guish the light of the power of God, and Satan labours, by 
various means, to hide the works of God from our view ; and, 
therefore, in order that they may obtain from us that praise 
which is due to them, they must be made so manifest that 
no room is left for doubt. Whatever then may be the in- 
gratitude of men, still this circumstance does not permit so 
illustrious a work of Christ to be ascribed to chance. 

53. And lie believed, and his whole house. It may appear 
absurd that the Evangelist should mention this as the com- 
mencement of faith in that man, whose faith he has already 
commended. Nor can it be supposed that the word believe 
— at least in this passage — relates to the progress of faith. 
But it must be understood that this man, being a Jew and 
educated in the doctrine of the Law, had already obtained 


some taste of faith when he came to Christ ; and that he 
afterwards believed in the saying of Christ was a particular 
faith, which extended no farther than to expect the life of 
his son. But now he began to believe in a different manner ; 
that is, because, embracing the doctrine of Christ, he openly 
professed to be one of his disciples. Thus not only does he 
now believe that his son will be cured through the kindness 
of Christ, but he acknowledges Christ to be the Son of God, 
and makes a profession of faith in his Gospel. His whole 
family joins him, which was an evidence of the miracle ; nor 
can it be doubted that he did. his utmost to bring others 
along with him to embrace the Christian religion. 


1. After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up 
to Jerusalem. 2. And there was in Jerusalem, at the sheep-market, a 
pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches. 3. In 
these lay a great multitude of diseased, blind, lame, withered, 1 waiting 
for the motion of the water. 4. For an angel went down, at intervals, 2 
into the pool, and troubled the water. Whosoever went down first after 
the troubling of the water was cured of whatever disease he formerly had. 
5. Now there was a man there, who had passed thirty and eight years in 
infirmity. 6. When Jesus saw this man lying, and knew that he had 
now been a long time diseased, he saith to him, Cost thou wish to be cured? 
7. The diseased man answered him, Sir, I have no man to let me down into 
the pool, when the water is troubled ; but while I am coming, another 
goeth down before me. 8. Jesus saith to him, Arise, carry thy bed, and 
walk. 9. And immediately that man was cured, and carried his bed, and 
walked. And the Sabbath was on that day. 

1. There was a feast of the Jeics. Though the Evangelist 
does not expressly state what feast this was, yet the probable 
conjecture is that he means Pentecost, at least if what is 
here related took place immediately after that Christ came 
into Galilee. For immediately after the Passover he set 
out from Jerusalem, and, as he was passing through Samaria, 

1 "Et qui avoyent les membres sees ; " and who had the limbs 

2 " Par intervalles, ow, en certain temps;" — " at intervals, or, at a cer- 
tain time." 


he reckoned four montlis to the harvest ; having entered 
Galilee he cured the courtier's son. The Evangelist adds 
that the feast came afterwards ; and, therefore, the order of 
time leads us to conclude that we ought to understand it to 
be Pentecost ; though I do not dispute about that matter. 
Now Christ came to Jerusalem to the feast, partly because at 
that time, on account of the great multitude of people who 
were assembled, he had the opportunity of publishing his 
doctrine more extensively, and partly because it was neces- 
sary that he should be subject to the Law, that he might 
redeem us from the bondage of the Law, as we have already 
explained on former occasions. 

2. There was in Jerusalem, at the sheep-market, a pool. 
The circumstance of the place is added, from which we learn 
that the miracle was not concealed or known to a few persons 
only ; for the five porches show that the place was celebrated 
for the great number of persons who resorted to it, and this 
was also implied in its vicinity to the temple. Besides, the 
Evangelist expressly says that many diseased persons lay there. 
With respect to the meaning of the name, the learned justly 
reject the fanciful opinion of Jerome, who, instead of 
Bethesda, makes it Betheder, and interprets it to mean the 
house of the flock ; for here mention is made of a pool, which 
was near the sheep-market. Those who read it Bethesda, as 
meaning a place of fishing, have no reason on their side. 
There is greater probability in the opinion of those who 
explain it to be a place of pouring out; for the Hebrew word 
"Ifc^K (Eshed) signifies flowing out; but the Evangelist, as 
was then the ordinary w r ay of speaking, pronounced it Esda. 
For I think that the w r ater was conveyed into it by conduits, 
that the priests might draw out of it ; unless perhaps the 
place received its name from the circumstance that the water 
was poured into it by means of tubes. It was called the sheep- 
market, in my opinion, because the beasts which were to be 
offered in sacrifice were taken there. 

3. In these lay a great multitude. It is possible that diseased 
persons lay in the porches to ask alms when the people were 
VOL. i. m 


passing there who were going into the temple to worship ; 
and there, too, it was customary to purchase the beasts which 
were to be offered in sacrifice. Yet at each feast God cured 
a certain number, that, in this way, he might recommend the 
worship prescribed in the Law and the holiness of the temple. 
But might it not appear foolish to believe, while we read 
of nothing of this kind having been done at a time when 
religion was in the most flourishing condition, and even since 
in the age of the Prophets miracles were not performed but 
on extraordinary occasions, that when the affairs of the nation 
were so decayed and almost ruinous, the power and grace of 
God were displayed with more than ordinary lustre ? I reply, 
there were, in my opinion, two reasons. As the Holy Spirit, 
dwelling in the Prophets, was a sufficient witness of the 
divine presence, religion at that time needed no other con- 
firmation ; for the Law had been sanctioned by abundantly 
sufficient miracles, and God ceased not to express, by innu- 
merable testimonies, his approbation of the worship which he 
had enjoined. But about the time of Christ's coming, as 
they were deprived of the Prophets and their condition was 
very wretched, and as various temptations pressed upon them 
on every hand, they needed this extraordinary aid, that they 
might not think that God had entirely left them, and thus 
might be discouraged and fall away. For we know that 
Malachi was the last of the Prophets, and, therefore, he closes 
his doctrine with this admonition, that the Jews may remem- 
ber the Law delivered by Moses, (Mai. iv. 4,) until Christ 
appear. God saw it to be advantageous to deprive them of 
the Prophets, and to keep them in suspense for a time, that 
they might be inflamed with a stronger desire for Christ, and 
might receive him with greater reverence, when he should be 
manifested to them. Yet, that testimonies might not be 
wanting to the temple and sacrifices, and to the whole of that 
worship by which salvation should be made known to the 
world, the Lord retained among the Jews this gift of healing, 
that they might know that there was a good reason why God 
separated them from the other nations. For God, by cur- 
ing the diseased, showed plainly — as by an arm stretched out 
from heaven — that he approved of this kind of worship which 


they derived from the injunction of the Law. Secondly, I 
have no doubt that God intended to remind thern by these 
signs that the time of redemption was approaching, and that 
Christ, the Author of salvation, was already at hand, that the 
minds of all might be the better aroused. I think that signs, 
in that age, served this twofold purpose ; first, that the Jews 
might know that God was present with them, and thus might 
remain steady in their obedience to the Law ; and, secondly, 
that they might earnestly hope for a new and unwonted 

Of lame, blind, withered. For the purpose of informing us 
that the diseases cured by our Lord were not of an ordinary 
kind, the Evangelist enumerates some classes of them ; for 
human remedies could be of no avail to the lame, blind, and 
withered. It was indeed a mournful spectacle, to see in so 
large a body of men so many kinds of deformities in the 
members; but yet the glory of God shone more brightly 
there than in the sight of the most numerous and best disci- 
plined army. For nothing is more magnificent than when 
an unwonted power of God corrects and restores the defects 
of nature ; and nothing is more beautiful or more delightful 
than when, through his boundless goodness, he relieves the 
distresses of men. For this reason the Lord intended that 
this should be a splendid theatre, in which not only the in- 
habitants of the country, but strangers also, might perceive 
and contemplate His majesty ; and, as I have already sug- 
gested, it was no small ornament and glory of the temple, 
when God, by stretching out his hand, clearly showed that 
He was present. 

4. For an angel went down. It was, no doubt, a work 
peculiar to God to cure the sick ; but, as He was accustomed 
to employ the ministration and agency of angels, so He com- 
manded an angel to perform this duty. For this reason the 
angels are called principalities or poicers, (Col. i. 16 ;) not that 
God gives up his poiver to them, and remains unemployed in 
heaven, but because, by acting powerfully in them, he mag- 
nificently shows and displays his power. It is, therefore, 
wicked and shameful to imagine any thing as belonging to the 


angels, or to constitute them the medium of communication 
between us and God, so as to obscure the glory of God, as if 
it were at a great distance from us, while, on the contrary, 
he employs them as the manifestations of his presence. We 
ought to guard against the foolish speculations of Plato, for 
the distance between us and God is too great to allow us to 
go to the angels, that they may obtain favour for us ; but, on 
the contrary, we ought to come direct to Christ, that, by his 
guidance, protection, and command, we may have the angels 
as assistants and ministers of our salvation. 

At intervals. God might have at once, in a single moment, 
cured them all, but, as his miracles have their design, so they 
ought also to have their limit ; as Christ also reminds them 
that, though there were so many that died in the time of 
Elisha, not more than one child was raised from the dead, 
(2 Kings iv. 32 ;) 1 and that, though so many widows were 
famished during the time of drought, there was but one whose 
poverty was relieved by Elijah, (1 Kings xvii. 9 ; Luke iv. 
25.) Thus the Lord reckoned it enough to give a demon- 
stration of his presence in the case of a few diseased persons. 
But the manner of curing, which is here described, shows 
plainly enough that nothing is more unreasonable than that 
men should subject the works of God to their own judgment ; 
for pray, what assistance or relief could be expected from 
troubled water ? But in this manner, by depriving us of our 
own senses, the Lord accustoms us to the obedience of faith. 
We too eagerly follow what pleases our reason, though con- 
trary to the word of God ; and, therefore, in order to render 
us more obedient to him, he often presents to us those things 
which contradict our reason. Then only do we show our 
submissive obedience, when we shut our eyes, and follow the 
plain word, though our own opinion be that what we are 
doing will be of no avail. We have an instance of this kind 
in Naaman a Syrian, whom the prophet sends to Jordan, that 
he may be cured of his leprosy, (2 Kings v. 10.) At first, 

1 The French version runs thus : " combien que du temps d'Elisee il y 
eust plusieurs de ladres, toutesfois nul d'eux ne fut nettoye sinon Naaman 
Syrien ; " — " though in the time of Elisha there were many lepers, yet not one 
of them was cleansed except Naaman a Syrian" (2 Kings v. 14 ; Luke iv. 


no doubt, he despises it as a piece of mockery, but afterwards 
he comes actually to perceive that, while God acts contrary 
to human reason, he never mocks or disappoints us. 

And troubled the water. Yet the troubling of the water was 
a manifest proof that God freely uses the elements according 
to his own pleasure, and that He claims for himself the result 
of the work. For it is an exceedingly common fault to ascribe 
to creatures what belongs to God alone ; but it would be the 
height of folly to seek, in the troubled water, the cause of the 
cure. He therefore holds out the outward symbol in such a 
manner that, by looking at the symbol, the diseased persons 
may be constrained to raise their eyes to Him who alone is 
the Author of grace. 

5. And there was a man there. The Evangelist collects 
various circumstances which prove that the miracle may be 
relied on as certain. The long duration of the disease had 
taken away all hope of its being cured. This man complains 
that he is deprived of the remedy of the water. He had 
frequently attempted to throw himself into the water, but 
without success ; there was no man to assist him, and this 
causes the power of Christ to be more strikingly displayed. 
Such, too, was the import of the command to carry his bed, 
that all might plainly see that he was cured in no other way 
than by the agency of Christ ; for when he suddenly rises up 
healthy and strong in all the members in which he was for- 
merly impotent, so sudden a change is the more fitted to 
arouse and strike the minds of all who beheld it. 

6. Wilt thou be made whole ? He does not inquire about 
it, as if it were a doubtful matter, but partly in order to kindle 
in the man a desire of the favour which was offered to him, 
and partly to quicken the attention of the witnesses who were 
present, and who, if they had been thinking of something else, 
might not have perceived the miracle, as frequently happens 
in sudden occurrences. For these two reasons, therefore, this 
preparation was necessary. 

7. / have no man. This diseased man does what almost 


all of us are wont to do ; for he limits the assistance of God 
according to his own thought, and does not venture to promise 
to himself any thing more than he conceives in his mind. 
Christ forgives his weakness, and in this we have a mirror of 
that forbearance of which every one of us has daily experience, 
when, on the one hand, we keep our attention fixed on the 
means which are within our reach, and when, on the other 
hand, contrary to expectation, he displays his hand from 
hidden places, and thus shows how far his goodness goes be- 
yond the narrow limits of our faith. Besides, this example 
ought to teach us patience. Thirty-eight years were a long 
period, during which God had delayed to render to this poor 
man that favour which, from the beginning, lie had deter- 
mined to confer upon him. However long, therefore, we 
may be held in suspense, though we groan under our distresses, 
let us never be discouraged by the tediousness of the length- 
ened period ; for, when our afflictions are long continued, 
though we discover no termination of them, still we ought 
always to believe that God is a wonderful deliverer, who, by 
Hie power, easily removes every obstacle out of the way. 

9. And it was the Sabbath. Christ was well aware how 
great offence would immediately arise, when they saw a man 
walk along laden with burdens ; for the Law expressly forbids 
to carry any burden whatever on the Sabbath-day, (Jer. xvii. 
21.) But there were two reasons why Christ, disregarding 
this danger, chose to make such an exhibition ; first, that the 
miracle might be more extensively known ; and, secondly, that 
he might give occasion, and, as it were, open up the way for 
the beautiful discourse which he delivered immediately after- 
wards. Of so great importance was the knowledge of that 
miracle, that he found it to be his duty to despise boldly the 
offence taken by the people, particularly because he had at 
hand a just defence, by which, though he did not pacify the 
ungodly, he abundantly refuted their calumnies. We ought 
therefore to observe this rule, that though the whole world 
kindle into rage, we ought to proclaim the glory of God and 
celebrate His works, so far as His glory requires that they 
should be made known. Nor ought we to be uneasy or 


discouraged, though our labours should not be immediately 
successful, provided that we keep in view the object which I 
have stated, and do not go beyond the limits of our office. 

10. The Jews therefore said to him who had been cured, It is the Sab- 
bath ; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. 11. He answered them, 
He who made me whole said to me, Cany thy bed and walk. 12. They 
therefore asked him, Who is that man who said to thee, Carry thy bed 
and walk ? 13. And he who had been cured knew not who he was ; for 
Jesus had withdrawn himself, because there was a crowd in that place. 1 

14. After these things, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, 
Lo, thou art made whole, sin no more, lest something worse befall thee. 

15. The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had 
made him whole. 16. And for that reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, 
and sought to slay him, because he did these things on the Sabbath-day. 

10. It is the Sabbath. It was the duty of all to maintain 
the sanctity of the Sabbath, and, therefore, they justly and 
properly accuse the man. But, when the excuse offered by 
the man does not satisfy them, they already begin to be in 
fault ; for, when the reason was known, he ought to have 
been acquitted. It was a violation of the Sabbath, as we 
have said, to carry a burden ; but Christ, who laid the burden 
on his shoulders, discharges him by his own authority. We 
are therefore taught by this example to avoid every rash 
judgment, until the reason of each action be fully known. 
Whatever contradicts the word of God deserves to be con- 
demned without hesitation ; but, as it frequently happens that 
there are mistakes in this matter, we ought first to inquire 
modestly and calmly, that our decision may be sound and 
sober. For since the Jews, prejudiced by wicked dispositions, 
have not patience to inquire, they shut the door against 
judgment and moderation ; but, if they had allowed them- 
selves to be taught, not only would the offence have been 
removed, but they would have been conducted still farther, 
with great advantage, to the knowledge of the Gospel. 

We now see how far the Jews were in the wrong. It is, 
because they do not admit a reasonable defence. The defence 
is, that he who had been cured replies that he does nothing 
but by the command of him who had power and authority to 

1 " Car Jesus s'estoit escoule de la multitude qui estoit en ce lieu-la ; * 
— " for Jesus had withdrawn from the multitude which was in that place." 


command ; for, though he did not yet know who Christ was, 
yet he was convinced that he had been sent by God, because 
he had received a proof of his divine power, and learns from 
it that Christ is endued with authority, so that it must be his 
duty to obey him. But this appears to be worthy of reproof, 
that a miracle turns him aside from obedience to the Law. 
I confess, indeed, that the argument which the man employs 
in contending with them is not sufficiently strong, but the 
others are faulty on two accounts, that they neither consider 
that this is an extraordinary work of God, nor suspend their 
judgment until they have heard a Prophet of God who is 
furnished with the word. 

13. And he who had been cured knew not toho he was. Christ 
certainly did not intend that the glory of so great a work 
sjiould pass away, but he intended that it should become 
generally known before that he acknowledged himself to be 
the Author of it. He therefore withdrew for a little, that 
the Jews might have it in their power to judge of the fact 
itself, without reference to any person. And hence we learn 
that the cure of this man cannot be ascribed to his faith, since, 
even after having been cured, he does not acknowledge his 
Physician ; and yet, when he was ordered, he carried his 
bed, which appears to have been done by the guidance of 
faith. For my own part, as I do not deny that there was in 
him some secret movement of faith, so I say that it is clear 
from what follows, that he had no solid doctrine or clear light 
on which he could rely. 

L4. After these things Jesus found him. These words show 
still more clearly that, when Christ concealed himself for a 
time, it was not in order that the remembrance of the kind- 
ness which he had conferred might perish, for he now appears 
in public of his own accord ; only he intended that the work 
should first be known, and that he should afterwards be 
declared to be the Author of it. This passage contains a 
highly useful doctrine; for when Christ says, lo, thou art 
made ivkole, his meaning is, that we make an improper use of 
the "ifts of God, if we are not excited to gratitude. Christ 


does not reproach the man with what he had given him, but 
only reminds him that he had been cured in order that, re- 
membering the favour which he had received, he might all 
his life serve God his Deliverer. Thus, as God by stripes 
instructs and spurs us on to repentance, so he invites us to it 
by his goodness and forbearance ; and, indeed, it is the uni- 
versal design both of our redemption and of all the gifts of 
Gcd, to keep us entirely devoted to Him. Now this cannot 
be done, unless the remembrance of the past punishment 
remain impressed on the mind, and unless he who has obtained 
pardon be employed in this meditation throughout his whole 

This admonition teaches us also, that all the evils which 
we endure ought to be imputed to our sins ; for the afflictions 
of men are not accidental, but are so many stripes for our 
chastisement. First, then, we ought to acknowledge the hand 
of God which strikes us, and not to imagine that our dis- 
tresses arise from a blind impetuosity of fortune ; and next 
we ascribe this honour to God, that, since He is a Father full 
of goodness, He does not take pleasure in our sufferings, and 
therefore does not treat us more harshly than he has been 
offended by our sins. When he charges him, sin no more, he 
does not enjoin him to be free from all sin, but speaks com- 
paratively as to his former life ; for Christ exhorts him 
henceforth to repent, and not to do as he had done before. 

Lest something worse befall thee. If God does not succeed 
in doing us good by the stripes with which he gently chastises 
us, as the kindest father would chastise his tender and delicate 
children, He is constrained to assume a new character, and a 
character which, so to speak, is not natural to Him. He 
therefore seizes the whip to subdue our obstinacy, as He 
threatens in the Law, (Lev. xxvi. 14 ; Deut. xxviii. 15 ; Ps. 
xxxii. 9 ;) and indeed throughout the Scriptures passages of 
the same kind are to be found. Thus, when we are incess- 
antly pressed down by new afflictions, we ought to trace this 
to our obstinacy ; for not only do we resemble restive horses 
and mules, but we are like wild beasts that cannot be tamed. 
There is no reason to wonder, therefore, if God make use of 
severer punishments, to bruise us, as it were, by mallets, when 


moderate punishment is of no avail ; for it is proper that they 
who will not endure to be corrected should be bruised by 
strokes. In short, the use of punishments is, to render us 
more cautious for the future. If, after the first and second 
strokes, we maintain obstinate hardness of heart, he will strike 
us seven times more severely. If, after having showed signs 
of repentance for a time, we immediately return to our natural 
disposition, he chastises more sharply this levity which proves 
us to be forgetful, and which is full of sloth. 

Again, in the person of this man it is of importance for us 
to observe with what gentleness and condescension the Lord 
bears with us. Let us suppose that the man was approach- 
ing old age, in which case he must have been visited by 
disease in the very prime of life, and perhaps had been 
attacked by it from his earliest infancy; and now let us 
consider how grievous to him must have been this punishment 
continued through so many years. It is certain that we cannot 
reproach God with excessive severity in causing this man to 
languish, and to be half-dead, for so long a period ; and, there- 
fore, when we are punished more lightly, let us learn that 
it is because the Lord, in his infinite goodness, moderates 
the extreme rigour of the punishments which we would have 
well deserved. 1 Let us also learn that no punishments are 
so rigorous and severe, that the Lord cannot make additions 
to them whenever he pleases. Nor can it be doubted that 
wretched men, by their wicked complaints, often draw down 
upon themselves dreadful and shocking tortures, when they 
assert that it is not possible to endure heavier distresses, and 
that God cannot send them any thing more. 2 Are not these 
things hidden among my treasures? saith the Lord, (Deut. 
xxxii. 34.) We ought also to observe how slow we are in 
deriving benefit from God's chastisements; for if Christ's 
exhortation was not superfluous, we may learn from it that 
the soul of this man was not yet fully purified from every 
vice. Indeed, the roots of vices are too deep in us to be 
capable of being torn out in a single day, or in a few days ; 

1 " Que nous aurions bien meritee." 

2 " Quand ils disent qu'il n'est pas possible d'endurer plus grand mal, 
et que Dieu ne leur en scauroit envoyer davantage." 


and the cure of the diseases of the soul is too difficult to be 
effected by remedies applied for a short time. 

15. The man went away. Nothing was farther from his 
intention than to make Christ an object of their hatred, and 
nothing was farther from his expectation than that they would 
rage so furiously against Christ. His intention, therefore, 
was pious ; for he wished to render to his Physician the 
honour which was justly due to him. The Jews, on the 
other hand, show their venom, not only in accusing Christ 
of having violated the Sabbath, but in breaking out into 
extreme cruelty. 

17. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I 
work. 18. For this reason, therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill 
him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but likewise called God his 
Father, making himself equal with God. 19. Jesus then answered, and 
said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, The Son cannot do any thing 
of himself but what he hath seen the Father do } for whatsoever things 
he doeth, those also doeth the Son likewise. 

17. My Father worketh hitherto. We must see what kind 
of defence Christ employs. He does not reply that the Law 
about keeping the Sabbath was temporary, and that it ought 
now to be abolished ; but, on the contrary, maintains that 
he has not violated the Law, because this is a divine work. 
It is true that the ceremony of the Sabbath was a part of the 
shadows of the Law, 1 and that Christ put an end to it by his 
coming, as Paul shows, (Col. ii. 16;) but the present ques- 
tion does not turn on that point. For it is only from their 
own works that men are commanded to abstain ; and, accord- 
ingly, circumcision — which is a work of God, and not of men 
— is not at variance with the Sabbath. 

What Christ insists upon is this, that the holy rest which 
was enjoined by the Law of Moses is not disturbed when we 
are employed in works of God. 2 And for this reason he 
excuses not only his own action, but also the action of the 
man who carried his bed ; for it was an appendage, and — as 

1 " II est bien vray que la ceremonie du Sabbath estoit une partie des 
ombres de la Loy." 

2 " Quand on s'employe a oeuvres de Dieu." 


we might say — a part of the miracle, for it was nothing else 
than an approbation of it. Besides, if thanksgiving and the 
publication of the divine glory be reckoned among the works 
of God, it was not a profanation of the Sabbath to testify the 
grace of God by feet and hands. But it is chiefly concern- 
ing himself that Christ speaks, to whom the Jews were more 
hostile. He declares that the soundness of body which he 
has restored to the diseased man is a demonstration of his 
divine power. He asserts that he is the Son of God, and 
that he acts in the same manner as his Father. 

What is the use of the Sabbath, and for what reasons it 
was enjoined, I do not now argue at greater length. It is 
enough for the present passage, that the keeping of the Sab- 
bath is so far from interrupting or hindering the works of 
God, that, on the contrary, it gives way to them alone. For 
why does the Law enjoin men to abstain from their own 
works, but in order to keep all their senses free and occupied 
for considering the works of God ? Consequently, he who 
does not, on the Sabbath, allow a free course and reign to 
the works of God, is not only a false expounder of the Law, 
but wickedly overturns it. 

If it be objected, that the example of God is held out to 
men, that they may rest on the seventh day, the answer is 
easy. Men are not conformed to God in this respect, that 
He ceased to work, but by abstaining from the troublesome 
actions of this world and aspiring to the heavenly rest. The 
Sabbath or rest of God, 1 therefore, is not idleness, but true 
perfection, which brings along with it a calm state of peace. 
Nor is this inconsistent with what Moses says, that God put 
an end to his works, (Gen. ii. 2 ;) for he means that, after 
having completed the formation of the world, God conse- 
crated that day, that men might employ it in meditating on 
his works. Yet He did not cease to sustain by this power 
the world which he had made, to govern it by his wisdom, 
to support it by his goodness, and to regulate all things ac- 
cording to his pleasure, both in heaven and on earth. In six 
days, therefore, the creation of the world was completed, but 

1 " Le Repos dc Dicu." 


the administration of it is still continued, and God incessantly 
worketh in maintaining and preserving the order of it ; as 
Paul informs us, that in him we live, and move, and arc, (Acts 
xvii. 28 ;) and David informs us, that all things stand so long 
as the Spirit of God upholds them, and that they fail as soon 
as he withdraws his support, (Psal. civ. 29.) Nor is it only 
by a general Providence that the Lord maintains the world 
which He has created, but He arranges and regulates every 
part of it, and more especially, by his protection, he keeps 
and guards believers whom he has received under his care and 

And I icork. Leaving the defence of the present cause, 
Christ now explains the end and use of the miracle, namely, 
that by means of it he may be acknowledged to be the Son of 
God; for the object which he had in view in all his words and 
actions was, to show that he was the Author of salvation. 
What he now claims for himself belongs to his Divinity, as 
the Apostle also says, that he upholdeth all things by his power- 
ful will, (Heb. i. 3.) But when he testifies that he is God, 
it is that, being manifested in the flesh, he may perform the 
office of Christ ; and when he affirms that he came from 
heaven, it is chiefly for- the purpose of informing us for what 
purpose he came down to earth. 

18. For this reason, therefore, the Jeics sought the more to 
slag him. This defence was so far from allaying their fury 
that it even enraged them the more. Nor was he unacquainted 
with their malignity and wickedness and hardened obstinacy, 
but he intended first to profit a few of his disciples who were 
then present, and next to make a public display of their in- 
curable malice. By his example he has taught us that we 
ought never to yield to the fury of wicked men, but should 
endeavour to maintain the truth of God, so far as necessity 
demands it, though the whole world should oppose and mur- 
mur. Nor is there any reason why the servants of Christ 
should take it ill that they do not profit all men according 
to their wish, since Christ himself did not always succeed ; 
and we need not wonder if, in proportion as the glory of 
God is more fully displayed, Satan rages the more violently 
in his members and instruments. 


Because he not only had broken the Sabbath. When the 
Evangelist says that the Jews were hostile to Christ, because 
he had broken the Sabbath, he speaks according to the opinion 
which they had formed ; for I have already showed that the 
state of the case was quite the contrary. The principal 
cause of their wrath was, that he called God his Father. And 
certainly Christ intended that it should be understood that 
God was his Fatlier in a peculiar sense, so as to distinguish 
himself from the ordinary rank of other men. He made him- 
self equal to God, when he claimed for himself continuance 
in icorking ; and Christ is so far from denying this, that he 
confirms it more distinctly. This refutes the madness of the 
Arians, who acknowledged that Christ is God, but did not 
think that lie is equal to the Father, as if in the one and 
simple essence of God there could be any inequality. 

19. Jesus therefore answered. We see what I have said, 
that Christ is so far from vindicating himself from what the 
Jews asserted, though they intended it as a calumny, that 
he maintains more openly that it is true. And first he insists 
on this point, that the work which the Jews cavilled at was 
a divine work, to make them understand that they must fight 
with God himself, if they persist in condemning what must 
necessarily be ascribed to him. This passage was anciently 
debated in various ways between the orthodox Fathers and 
the Arians. Arius inferred from it that the Son is inferior 
to the Father, because he can do nothing of himself. The 
Fathers replied that these words denote nothing more than 
the distinction of the person, so that it might be known that 
Christ is from the Father, and yet that he is not deprived of 
intrinsic power to act. But both parties were in the wrong. 
For the discourse does not relate to the simple Divinity of 
Christ, and those statements which we shall immediately see 
do not simply and of themselves relate to the eternal Word 
of God, but apply only to the Son of God, so far as he is 
manifested in the flesh. 

Let us therefore keep Christ before our eyes, as he was 
sent into the world by the Father to be a Redeemer. The 
Jews beheld in him nothing higher than human nature, and, 


therefore, he argues that, when he cured the diseased man, 
he did it not by human power, but by a Divine power which 
was concealed under his visible flesh. The state of the case 
is this. As they, confining their attention to the appearance 
of the flesh, despised Christ, he bids them rise higher and look at 
God. The whole discourse must be referred to this contrast, 
that they err egregiously who think that they have to do with 
a mortal man, when they accuse Christ of works which are 
truly divine. This is his reason for affirming so strongly that 
in this work, there is no difference between him and his Father. 

20. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things which 
he doeth ; and he will show him greater works than these, that you may 
wonder. 21. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them ; 
so also the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22. For the Father judgeth 
no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son ; 23. That all men 
may honour the Son, as they honour the Father : he who honoureth not 
the Son honoureth not the Father who sent him. 24. Verily, verily, I 
say to you, That he who heareth my word, and believeth in him who sent 
me, hath eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation, but hath 
passed from death to life. 

20. For the Father loveth the Son. Every body sees how 
harsh and far-fetched is the exposition of this passage which 
is given by the Fathers. a God," they say, " loves himself 
in the Son." But this statement applies beautifully to Christ 
as clothed with flesh, that he is beloved by the Father. 
What is more, we know that it is by this excellent title that 
he is distinguished both from angels and from men, TJiis is 
my beloved Son, (Matth. iii. 17.) For we know that Christ 
was chosen, that the whole love of God might dwell in him, 
and might flow from him to us as from a full fountain. Christ 
is loved by the Father, as he is the Head of the Church. He 
shows that this love is the cause why the Father does all 
things by his hand. For when he says that the Father 
showeth to him, this word must be understood to denote 
communication, as if he had said, " As the Father hath given 
to me his heart, so he hath poured out his power on me, that 
the Divine glory may shine in my Avorks, and — what is more 
— that men may seek nothing Divine but what they find in 
me." And, indeed, out of Christ it will be in vain to seek 
the power of God. 


He will show him greater works than these. By these words 
he means that the miracle, which he had performed in curing 
the man, was not the greatest of the works enjoined on him 
by the Father ; for he had only given in it a slight taste of 
that grace of which he is properly both minister and Author ; 
namely, to restore life to the world. 

That you may wonder. By adding these words, he indi- 
rectly charges them with ingratitude in despising so illus- 
trious a demonstration of the power of God ; as if he had 
said, " Though you are dull and stupid, yet the works which 
God shall afterwards perform by me will draw you, however 
reluctantly, into admiration." Yet this appears not to have 
been fulfilled, for we know that seeing, they saw not; as Isaiah 
also says that the reprobate are blind amidst the light of 
God. I reply, Christ did not now speak of their disposition, 
but only threw out a suggestion as to the splendour of the 
demonstration which he would soon afterwards give that he 
was the Son of God. 

21. For as the Father raiseth vp the dead. Here he gives a 
summary view of the nature of the office which had been 
given to him by the Father ; for though he appears to specify 
one class, yet it is a general doctrine in which he declares 
himself to be the Author of life. Now life contains within 
itself not only righteousness, but all the gifts of the Holy 
Spirit, and every part of our salvation. And certainly this 
miracle must have been so remarkable a proof of the power 
of Christ, as to yield this common fruit ; that is, to open a 
door to the Gospel. We ought also to observe in what 
manner Christ bestows life upon us ; for he found us all dead, 
and therefore it was necessary to begin with a resurrection. 
Yet, when he joins the two words, raiseth up and quickeneth, 
he does not use superfluous language ; for it would not have 
been enough that we were rescued from death, if Christ did 
not fully and perfectly restore life to us. Again, he does not 
speak of this life as bestowed indiscriminately on all ; for he 
6ays that he giveth life to whom he will; by which he means 
that he specially confers this grace on none but certain men, 
that is, on the elect. 


22. For the Father judgeth no man. lie now states more 
clearly the general truth, that the Father governs the world 
in the person of the Son, and exercises dominion by his hand ; 
for the Evangelist employs the word judgment, agreeably to 
the idiom of the Hebrew language, as denoting authority and 
power. AVe now perceive the amount of what is stated here, 
that the Father hath given to the Son a kingdom, that he 
may govern heaven and earth according to his pleasure. But 
this might appear to be very absurd, that the Father, surren- 
dering his right to govern, should remain unemployed in 
heaven, like a private person. The answer is easy. This is 
said both in regard to God and to men ; for no change took 
place in the Father, when he appointed Christ to be supreme 
King and Lord of heaven and earth ; for he is in the Son, 
and works in him. But since, when we wish to rise to God, 
all our senses immediately fail, Christ is placed before our 
eyes as a lively image of the invisible God. There is no 
reason, therefore, why we should toil to no purpose in explor- 
ing the secrets of heaven, since God provides for our weakness 
by showing himself to be near in the person of Christ ; but, 
on the other hand, whenever the inquiry relates to the gov- 
ernment of the world, to our own condition, to the heavenly 
guardianship of our salvation, let us learn to direct our eyes 
to Christ alone, as all power is committed to him, (Matth. 
xxviii. 18,) and in his face God the Father, who would 
otherwise have been hidden and at a distance, appears to us 
so that the unveiled majesty of God does not swallow us up 
by its inconceivable brightness. 

23. That all men may honour the Son. This clause suffi- 
ciently confirms the suggestion which I threw out a little ago, 
that when it is said that God reigns in the person of Christ, 
this does not mean that he reposes in heaven, as indolent 
kings are wont to do, but because in Christ he manifests his 
power and shows himself to be present. For what else is the 
meaning of these words, that all men may honour the Son, but 
that the Father wishes to be acknowledged and worshipped 
in the Son ? Our duty, therefore, is to seek God the Father 
in Christ, to behold his power in Christ, and to worship him 

VOL. i. N 


in Christ. For, as immediately follows, he who honoureth not 
the Son deprives God of the honour which is due to him. Ail 
admit that we ought to worship God, and this sentiment, 
which is natural to us, is deeply rooted in our hearts, so that 
no man dares absolutely to refuse to God the honour which 
is due to him ; yet the minds of men lose themselves in going 
out of the way to seek God. Hence so many pretended 
deities, hence so many perverse modes of worship. We shall 
never, therefore, find the true God but in Christ, nor shall 
we ever worship Him aright but by kissing the Son, as David 
tells us, (Ps. ii. 12 ;) for, as John elsewhere declares, He who 
hath not the Son hath not the Father, (1 John ii. 23.) 

Mahometans and Jews do indeed adorn with beautiful 
and magnificent titles the God whom they worship ; but we 
ought to remember that the name of God, when it is sepa- 
rated from Christ, is nothing else than a vain imagination. 
Whoever then desires to have his worship approved by the 
true God, let him not turn aside from Christ. Nor was it 
otherwise with the Fathers under the Law ; for though they 
beheld Christ darkly under shadows, yet never did God re- 
veal himself out of Christ. But now, since Christ has been 
manifested in the flesh and appointed to be King over us, 
the whole world must bend the knee to him, in order to obey 
God ; for the Father having made him sit at his right hand, 
he who forms a conception of God without Christ takes away 
the half of him. 

24. He that heareth my word. Here is described the way 
and manner of honouring God, that no one may think that it 
consists solely in any outward performance, or in frivolous 
ceremonies. For the doctrine of the Gospel seems as a 
sceptre to Christ, by which he governs believers whom the 
Father has made his subjects. And this definition is emi- 
nently worthy of notice. Nothing is more common than a 
false profession of Christianity ; for even the Papists^ who 
are most inveterate enemies of Christ, do in the most pre- 
sumptuous manner boast of his name. But here Christ 
demands from us no other honour than to obey his Gospel. 
Hence it follows, that all the honour which hypocrites bestow 


on Christ is but the kiss of Judas, by which he betrayed his 
Lord. Though they may a hundred times call him King, 
yet they deprive him of his kingdom and of all power, when 
they do not exercise faith in the Gospel. 

Hath eternal life. By these words he likewise commends 
the fruit of obedience, that we may be more willing to ren- 
der it. For who ought to be so hardened a3 not to submit 
willingly to Christ, when the reward of eternal life is held 
out to him ? And yet we see how few there are whom 
Christ gains to himself by so great goodness. So great is 
our depravity that we choose rather to perish of our own 
accord than to surrender ourselves to obey the Son of God, 
that we may be saved by his grace. Both, therefore, are here 
included by Christ — the robe of devout and sincere worship 
which he requires from us, and the method by which he 
restores us to life. For it would not be sufficient to under- 
stand what he formerly taught, that he came to raise the dead, 
unless we also knew the manner in which he restores us to 
life. Now he affirms that life is obtained by hearing his 
word, and by the word hearing he means faith, as he imme- 
diately afterwards declares. But faith has its seat not in the 
ears, but in the heart. Whence faith derives so great power, 
we have formerly explained. We ought always to consider 
what it is that the Gospel offers to us ; for we need not won- 
der that he who receives Christ with all his merits is recon- 
ciled to God, and acquitted of the condemnation of death ; 
and that he who has received the gift of the Holy Spirit is 
clothed with a heavenly righteousness, that he may icalk in 
newness of life, (Rom. vi. 6.) The clause which is added, 
believeth on him who sent him, serves to confirm the authority 
of the Gospel : when Christ testifies that it came from God, 
and was not invented by men, as he elsewhere says that what 
he speaks is not from himself, but was delivered to him by the 
Father, (John vii. 16; xiv. 10.) 

And shall not come into condemnation. There is here an 
implied contrast between the guilt to which we are all natu- 
rally liable, and the unconditional acquittal which we obtain 
through Christ ; for if all were not liable to condemnation, 
what purpose would it serve to free from it those who believe 


in Christ ? The meaning therefore is, that we are beyond 
the danger of death, because we are acquitted through the 
grace of Christ ; and, therefore, though Christ sanctifies and 
regenerates us, by his Spirit, to newness of life, yet here he 
specially mentions the unconditional forgiveness of sins, in 
which alone the happiness of men consists. For then does a 
man begin to live when he has God reconciled to him ; and 
how would God love us, if he did not pardon our sins ? 

But hath passed. Some Latin copies have this verb in the 
future tense, wile P ass from death to life; but this has arisen 
from the ignorance and rashness of some person who, not 
understanding the meaning of the Evangelist, has taken more 
liberty than he ought to have taken ; for the Greek word 
{Mra,Q'sQr}x.s (hath passed) has no ambiguity whatever. There 
is no impropriety in saying that we have already passed from 
death to life ; for the incorruptible seed of life (1 Pet. i. 23) 
resides in the children of God, and they already sit in the 
heavenly glory with Christ by hope, (Col. iii. 3,) and they 
have the kingdom of God already established within them, 
(Luke xvii. 21.) For though their life be hidden, they do 
not on that account cease to possess it by faith ; and though 
they are besieged on every side by faith, they do not cease 
to be calm on this account, that they know that they are in 
perfect safety through the protection of Christ. Yet let us 
remember that believers are now in life in such a manner that 
they always carry about with them the cause of death ; but 
the Spirit, who dwells in us, is life, which will at length 
destroy the remains of death ; for it is a true saying of Paul, 
that death is the last enemy that shall be destroyed, (1 Cor. xv. 
26.) And, indeed, this passage contains nothing that relates 
to the complete destruction of death, or the entire manifes- 
tation of life. But though life be only begun in us, Christ 
declares that believers are so certain of obtaining it, that they 
ought not to fear death ; and we need not wonder at this, 
since they are united to him who is the inexhaustible foun- 
tain of life. 

25. Verily, verily, I say to you, That the hour cometh, and now is, 
when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and thev that hear 
shall live. 26. For as the Father hath life in himself, so also hath he 


given to the Son to have life in himself. 27. And he hath given him 
power to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 1 28. 
Wonder not at this ; for the hour cometh when all who are in the graves 
shall hear his voice, 29. And they who have done good shall go forth 
to the resurrection of life; and they who have done evil, to the resurrec- 
tion of condemnation. 

25. Verily, verily. When the Evangelist represents the 
Son of God as swearing so frequently in reference to our sal- 
vation, hence we perceive, first, how eagerly he desires our 
welfare, and next, of how great importance it is that the 
faith of the Gospel should be deeply fixed and thoroughly 
confirmed. The statement has indeed some appearance of 
being incredible, when we are told that this is the effect of 
the faith of which Christ speaks ; and therefore he confirms 
by an oath that the voice of his Gospel has such power of 
giving life that it is powerful to raise the dead. It is generally 
agreed that he speaks of spiritual death ; for those who refer 
it to Lazarus, (John xi. 44,) and to the widow's son at Nain, 
(Luke vii. 15,) and similar instances, are refuted by what 
follows. First, Christ shows that we are all dead before he 
quickens us ; and hence it is evident what the whole nature 
of man can accomplish towards procuring salvation. 

When the Papists wish to set up their free-will, they com- 
pare it to the Samaritan whom the robbers had left half-dead 
on the road, (Luke x. 30 ;) as if by the smoke of an allegory they 
could darken a clear statement, by which Christ declares that 
we are fully condemned to death. And indeed as we have been, 
since the revolt of the first man, alienated from God through 
sin, all who do not acknowledge that they are overwhelmed 
with everlasting destruction do nothing else than deceive 
themselves by empty flatteries. I readily acknowledge that 
in the soul of man there remains some remnant of life ; for 
understanding, and judgment, and will, and all our senses, 
are so many parts of life ; but as there is no part which rises 
to the desire of the heavenly life, we need not wonder if the 
whole man, so far as relates to the kingdom of God, is ac- 
counted dead. And this death Paul explains more fully when 

1 "Pourcc qu'il est {mi, entant qn'il est) le Fils dc riiommc ; " — 
' because he is {or, in so Jar as he is) the Son of man." 


he says, that we are alienated from the pure and sound rea- 
son of the understanding, that we are enemies to God, and 
opposed to his righteousness, in every affection of our heart ; 
that we wander in darkness like blind persons, and are given 
up to wicked lusts, (Eph. ii. 1 ; iv. 17.) If a nature so cor- 
rupted has no power to desire righteousness, it follows that 
the life of God is extinguished in us. 

Thus the grace of Christ is a true resurrection from the 
dead. Now this grace is conferred on us by the Gospel ; 
not that so much energy is possessed by the external voice, 
which in many cases strikes the ears to no purpose, but be- 
cause Christ speaks to our hearts within by his Spirit, that 
we may receive by faith the life which is offered to us. For 
he does not speak indiscriminately of all the dead, but means 
the elect only, -whose ears God pierces and opens, that they 
may receive the voice of his Son, which restores them to life. 
This twofold grace, indeed, Christ expressly holds out to us 
by his words, when he says, The dead shall hear the voice of the 
Son of God, and they who hear shall live ; for it is not less con- 
trary to nature that the dead should hear, than that they should 
be brought back to the life which they had lost ; and there- 
fore both proceed from the secret power of God. 

The hour cometh, and now is. He thus speaks of it as a 
thing which had never before happened ; and, indeed, the 
publication of the Gospel was a new and sudden resurrection 
of the world. But did not the w r ord of God always give life 
to men ? This question may be easily answered. The doc- 
trine of the Law and the Prophets was addressed to the 
people of God, and consequently must have been rather 
intended to preserve in life those who were the children of 
God than to bring them back from death. But it was other- 
wise with the Gospel, by which nations formerly estranged 
from the kingdom of God, separated from God, and deprived 
of all hope of salvation, were invited to become partakers of 

26. For as the Father hath life in himself He shows whence 
his voice derives such efficacy ; namely, that he is the foun- 
tain of life, and by his voice pours it out on men ; for life 


would not flow to us from his mouth, if he had not in himself 
the cause and source of it. God is said to have life in himself, 
not only because he alone lives by his own inherent power, 
but because, containing in himself the fulness of life, he 
communicates life to all things. And this, indeed, belongs 
peculiarly to God, as it is said. With thee is the fountain oj life, 
(Ps. xxxvi. 9.) But because the majesty of God, being far 
removed from us, would resemble an unknown and hidden 
source, for this reason it has been openly manifested in 
Christ. We have thus an open fountain placed before us, 
from which we may draw. The meaning of the words is 
this : " God did not choose to have life hidden, and, as it 
were, buried within himself, and therefore he poured it into 
his Son, that it might flow to us." Hence we conclude, that 
this title is strictly applied to Christ, so far as he was mani- 
fested in the flesh. 

27. And hath given him power. He again repeats that the 
Father hath given him dominion, that he may have full 
power over all things in heaven and in the earth. The word 
it,o\>cia here denotes authority. Judgment is here put for rule 
and government, as if he had said, that the Father had 
appointed him to be King, to govern the world, and exercise 
the power of the Father himself. 

Because he is the Son of man. This reason, which is im- 
mediately added, deserves particularly to be observed, for it 
means that he comes forth to men, adorned with such mag- 
nificence of power, that he may impart to them what he has 
received from the Father. Some think that this passage 
contains nothing else than what is said by Paul, that Christ, 
having been in the form of God, emptied himself hg taking upon 
him the form of a servant, and humbled himself even to the death 
of the cross ; and therefore God hath exalted him, and given him 
a name more illustrious than any name, that every knee may 
bow before him, (Philip, ii. 7-10.) But for my own part, I 
regard the meaning as more extensive : that Christ, so far as 
he is man, was appointed by the Father to be the Author of 
life, that it may not be necessary for us to go far to seek it ; 
for Christ did not receive it for himself, as if he needed it, 


but in order to enrich us by his wealth. It may be summed 
up thus : " What had been hidden in God is revealed to us 
in Christ as man, and life, which was formerly inaccessible, 
is now placed before our eyes." There are some who separate 
this argument from its immediate connection, and join it to 
the following clause ; but this is a forced interpretation, and 
is at variance with Christ's meaning. 

28. Wonder not at this. We may be apt to think that he 
reasons inconclusively, in drawing from the last resurrection 
a confirmation of what he had said ; for it is not an instance 
of greater power to raise up bodies than to raise up minds. 
I reply, it is not from the fact itself that he makes a com- 
parison between the greater and the less, but from the 
opinion of men ; for, being carnal, they admire nothing but 
what is outward and visible. Hence it arises that they pass 
by the resurrection of the soul with little concern, while the 
resurrection of the body excites in them greater admiration. 
Another effect produced by this gross stupidity of ours is, 
that those things which are perceived by the eyes have a 
more powerful influence in producing faith than those which 
can be received by faith alone. As he mentions the last day, 
that limitation — and now is — is not again added, but he 
simply declares that the time will one day arrive. 

But another objection springs up ; for though believers 
expect the resurrection of bodies, yet they cannot rely on 
their knowledge of it, so as to conclude that souls are now 
rescued from death, because bodies will one day rise out of 
the graves. And among ungodly men, 1 what would be reck- 
oned more ridiculous than to prove a thing unknown (to use 
a common phrase) by a thing less known ? I reply, Christ 
here boasts of his power over the reprobate, so as to testify 
that the Father has committed to him the full restoration of 
all things ; as if he had said, " What I now tell you that I have 
commenced, I will one clay finish before your eyes." And, 
indeed, when Christ now, by the voice of his Gospel, quickens 
souls which had been sunk in perdition, it is a sort of pre- 

1 "Dps contempteurs do Dieu ct incredules ;" — " with despisers of God 
ami unbelievers." 


paratlon for the last resurrection. Again, as lie includes the 
whole human race, he immediately makes a distinction be- 
tween the elect and the reprobate. This division shows that 
the reprobate, as they are now summoned by the voice of 
Christ to come to judgment, will also, by the same voice, be 
dragged and brought to appear at his tribunal. 

But why does he mention those only who arc shut up in 
graves, as if others would not be partakers of the resurrection, 
whether they have been drowned, or devoured by wild beasts, 
or reduced to ashes ? The answer is, that as the dead are 
commonly buried, by the figure of <speech called synecdoche, 
he employs a part to denote all who are already dead. And 
this is more emphatic than if he had said simply, the dead; 
for those whom death already deprived of life and light the 
grave withdraws, as it were, from the world. 

Shall hear his voice. The voice of the Son means the sound 
of the trumpet, which will sound at the command by the power 
of Christ, (Matth. xxiv. 31 ; 1 Cor. xv. 52.) For though an 
angel will be a herald or forerunner, (1 Thcss. iv. 16,) this does 
not hinder what is done by the authority of the Judge, and as 
it were in his own person, from being ascribed to himself. 

29. And they who have done good. He points out believers 
by good works, as he elsewhere teaches that a tree is knoicn by 
its fruit, (Matth. vii. 16 ; Luke vi. 44.) He praises their good 
works, to which they have begun to devote themselves since 
they were called. For the robber, to whom Christ on the cross 
(Lukexxiii.42) promised life, and who had all his life been given 
up to crimes, expresses a desire to do good with his latest breath ; 
but as he is born again a new man, and from being the slave of 
sin begins to be a servant of righteousness, the whole course of 
his past life is not taken into account before God. Besides, 
the sins themselves, on account of which believers every day 
subject themselves to condemrfation, are not imputed to them. 
For without the pardon which God grants to those who be- 
lieve in Him, 1 there never was a man in the world of whom 
we can say that lie has lived well ; nor is there even a single 

' " Sans Ic pardon que Dicu fait a ses fideles." 


work that will be reckoned altogether good, unless God par- 
don the sins which belong to it, for all are imperfect and cor- 
rupted. Those persons, therefore, are here called doers of 
good works whom Paul calls earnestly desirous or zealous of 
them, (Tit. ii. 14.) But this estimate depends on the fatherly 
kindness of God, who by free grace approves what deserved 
to be rejected. 

The inference which the Papists draw from those passages 
— that eternal life is suspended on the merits of works — may 
be refuted without any difficulty. For Christ does not now 
treat of the cause of salvation, but merely distinguishes the 
elect from the reprobate by their own mark ; and he does so 
in order to invite and exhort his own people to a holy and 
blameless life. And indeed w r e do not deny that the faith 
which justifies us is accompanied by an earnest desire to 
live well and righteously ; but we only maintain that our 
confidence cannot rest on any thing else than on the mercy 
of God alone. 

30. I can do nothing of myself; as I hear, I judge, and my judgment 
is just ; because I seek no my own will, but the will of my Father who 
sent me. 31. If I testify concerning myself, my testimony is not true. 
32. There is another who testifieth concerning me, and I know that the 
testimony Avhich he testifieth concerning me is true. 

30. / can do nothing of myself. It would be superfluous 
here to enter into abstruse reasonings, whether the Son of 
God can do any thing of himself or otherwise, so far as relates 
to his eternal Divinity ; for he did not intend to keep our 
minds employed about such trifles. Consequently there was 
no reason why the ancients should have given themselves 
so much anxiety and distress about refuting the calumny of 
Arius. That scoundrel gave out that the Son is not equal to 
the Father because he can do nothing of himself. The holy 
men reply, that the Son justly, claims for himself all that can 
be ascribed to the Father, from whom he takes his com- 
mencement, with respect to his person. But, in the first 
place, Christ does not speak of his Divinity simply, but warns 
us that, so far as he is clothed with our flesh, we ought not 
to judge of him from the outward appearance, because he has 


something higher than man. Again, we ought to consider 
with whom he has to deal. His intention was, to refute the 
Jews who were endeavouring to contrast him with God. He 
therefore affirms that he does nothing by human power, be- 
cause he has for his guide and director God who dwells in 

We ought always to keep in remembrance that, whenever 
Christ speaks concerning himself, he claims only that which 
belongs to man ; for he keeps his eye upon the Jews, who 
erroneously said that he was merely one of the ordinary rank 
of men. For the same reason, he ascribes to the Father 
whatever is higher than man. The word judge belongs pro- 
perly to doctrine, but is intended also to apply to the whole 
of his administration, as if he had said, that he acts by the 
Father's direction in all things, that the Father's will is his rule, 
and therefore that He will defend him against all adversaries. 1 

And my judgment is just. He concludes that his actions 
and sayings are beyond the risk of blame, because he does 
not allow himself to attempt anything but by the command 
and direction of the Father ; for it ought to be regarded as 
beyond all controversy that whatever proceeds from God 
must be right. This modesty ought to be held by us as the 
first maxim of piety, to entertain such reverence for the word 
and works of God, that the name of God would alone be 
sufficient to prove their justice and rectitude ; but how few 
are to be found who are ready to acknowledge that God is 
just, unless they are compelled to do so ! I acknowledge, 
indeed, that God demonstrates his righteousness by experi- 
ence ; but to limit it to the perception of our flesh, so as to 
have no opinion respecting it but what our own mind sug- 
gests, is wicked and daring impiety. Let us, therefore, set 
it down as certain and undoubted, that whatever is from 
God is right and true, and that it is impossible for God not 
to be true in all his words, just and right in all his actions. 
We are likewise reminded that the only rule for acting well 
is, to undertake nothing but by the direction and command- 
ment of God. And if after this the whole world should rise 

1 " II sera son protecteur et garcnt contre tous adversaires." 


against us, we shall still have this invincible defence, that he 
who follows God cannot go astray. 

Because I seek not my own will. He does not here make 
his own will and that of his Father to clash with each other, 
as if they were contrary things, but only refutes the false 
opinion which they entertained, that he was impelled by 
human presumption rather than guided by the authority of 
God. He affirms, therefore, that he has no disposition which 
is peculiar to himself and separate from the command of the 

31. If I testify concerning myself. He does not here take 
any thing away from the credit due to his testimony, which 
he elsewhere asserts in strong terms, but he speaks by way 
of concession ; for Christ, having been in other respects most 
abundantly supported, consents that they should not believe 
his w r ord. " If my testimony concerning myself," says he, 
il is suspected by you according to the ordinary custom of 
men, let it go for nothing." Now we know that what any 
man asserts about himself is not reckoned to be true and 
authentic, although in other respects he speak truth, because 
no man is a competent witness in his own cause. Though it 
would be unjust to reduce the Son of God to this rank, yet 
he prefers to surrender his right, that he may convince his 
enemies by the authority of God. 

33. You sent to John, and he gave testimony to the truth. 34. But 
I receive not testimony from man ; but these things I say that you may 
be saved. 35. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a time you 
were willing to amuse yourselves in his light. 36. But I have greater 
testimony than that of John ; for the works which my Father gave me to 
perform, the very works which I do, testify concerning me that the Father 
hath sent me. 

33. You sent to John. Before producing the testimony of 
God, he presses them with the answer of John, from which 
they could not honourably withhold their belief. For of 
what use was it to send to him, if they did not intend to 
abide by his words ? They send to him as a Prophet of God, 
and thus they pretend that his word will be regarded by them 
as an oracle. Now, though this implies another admission 


in their favour, still Christ openly brings against them this 
charge, that nothing but their own malice 1 hinders them 
from believing. And, therefore, we see that this circum- 
stance is highly appropriate to the matter in hand, namely, 
that they sent to John, and — as if their motive had been a 
desire to learn— inquired at him who was the Messiah, and 
yet paid no attention to his reply. 

34. / receive not testimony from men. Yet it was not in 
vain that God chose Christ to be a witness to him, and 
Christ himself declares, on another occasion, that the disci- 
ples will be his witnesses. You shall be witnesses to vie, both in 
Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the 
uttermost part of the earth, (Acts i. 8.) I reply, Christ avails 
himself of the testimony of John, not because he needs it, but 
so far as it is advantageous to us to receive from it some con- 
firmation. Men borrow testimony from one another, because 
they cannot dispense with that assistance. The case is dif- 
ferent with God and Christ. For if philosophers assert that 
virtue has no need of foreign aid, what has man in himself to 
lend support to the truth of God ? And Christ immediately 
adds, that he produces the testimony of John on their account : 
these things I say that you may be saved. By this statement he 
means that it is not so much from a regard to himself as from 
a desire to promote the advantage of men, that he raises up 
the heralds of his Gospel by whom he testifies to us concern- 
ing his will. In this we see also a striking proof of his won- 
derful goodness, by which he regulates all things for our 
salvation. It is therefore our duty, on the other hand, to 
strive that the great care which he bestows in saving us may 
not be fruitless. 

35. He ivas a burning and shining lamp. When he calls 
John a burning lamp, this proves their ingratitude; for it 
follows that they are only blind, because they choose to be 
so, since God kindled a lamp before their eyes. The mean- 
ing of the words therefore is, " God did not intend that you 

1 " Rien que leur propre malice." 


should go astray ; for he appointed John to be a lamp, that 
he might direct you by his brightness ; and, therefore, when 
you do not acknowledge me to be the Son of God, this arises 
from voluntary error." This is followed by another reproach, 
that not only did they shut their eyes, and thus obstruct the 
entrance of the light which was offered to them, but they 
intentionally abused it for the purpose of crushing Christ. 
For when they were ready to applaud John beyond what he 
justly deserved, this arose from a wicked and treacherous 
design not to give way to the Son of God. 

And you were willing to amuse yourselves in his light. This 
wicked abuse of the heavenly light Christ elegantly compares 
to foolish mirth ; as if the head of a family were to light a 
lamp for his servants by night, that they might perform the 
duties which he had enjoined on them, but they, instead of 
doing so, employed it for debauchery and every kind of 
licentiousness. By these words Christ accuses the Jews, and 
at the same time conveys to all of us a warning that, when 
God sends faithful teachers to guide us in the right way, we 
should take care not to abuse them by wandering in every 
direction. How useful this warning is, the experience of all 
ages shows. God undertakes to direct men, throughout the 
whole course of their life, to the final goal, and sends his 
prophets to be their guides. Yet such is the madness of the 
folly of men that, instead of walking, they prefer to indulge 
in wanton dancing, without making any progress ; so light 
and unsteady are they that, despising and rejecting his con- 
tinued guidance, they are hurried away by the sudden 
impulses of their passions. 

For a time, or, for an hour. By this term he reproves 
them for their folly in thinking that wickedness of a transi- 
tory nature and short duration can extinguish the light of 
God. Thus in our own day all those faithful teachers whom 
God has given to his Church as burning lamps are applied by 
the Papists to a contrary purpose ; as if their intention were, 
by looking at the light, to dazzle their eyes. And not only 
do they abuse the lamps for extinguishing the light of God, 
but they often indulge in foolish gaiety amidst the darkness, 
as when they rise against the pure doctrine of the Gospel, and 


glory iii the foolish sayings of their noisy declaimers. But 
what Christ here asserts concerning John, Paul declares to 
be common to all believers, because, having the word of life, 
they ought to give light to the world, like torches. But 
Christ shows that it belongs strictly to the Apostles and 
ministers of the Gospel to go before others and hold out the 
torch to guide them ; l for though we are all blind, and in the 
midst of darkness, God shines upon us by the light of his 
word. But here he peculiarly adorns John the Baptist with 
this honourable designation, because by his ministry God 
shone on his Church with much greater brightness. 

36. But I have greater testimony than that of John. After 
having showed that, in the person of John, the Jews had 
wickedly corrupted the gift of God, he now repeats a second 
time what he had said, that he has no need of the testimony 
of man, as if he had not enough of himself; although, per- 
ceiving that they held his person in contempt, he sent them 
to his Father, according to his custom. 

For the works which the Father hath given me to do. He 
holds out to view two things, by which he was proved to be 
the Son of God. " My Father" says he, " attests by miracles 
that I am his Son ; and before I came into the world, he 
gave abundant testimony to me in the sacred writings." Let 
us always remember what object he has in view. He wishes 
to be recognized as the Messiah promised by God, that he 
may be heard, and, therefore, he maintains that he is now 
manifested to be such a person as Scripture describes him. 
It may be asked, Are miracles sufficient to prove this ; for 
similar miracles had been already performed by the Prophets ? 
I reply, those miracles which God performed by the agency 
of the Prophets did not go beyond the purpose for which 
they were intended, namely, to show that they were the 
ministers of God, because they could in no other way obtain 
the authority due to their office. But God intended to ex- 
alt his Son more highly, and this purpose of God ought to 
be regarded by us as the design of miracles. Therefore, if 

1 " Pource qu'ils marchent les premiers, portans le flambe au devant 
les autres pour les guider." 


the Jews had not been prejudiced by malice and voluntarily 
shut their eyes, Christ might easily have proved to them by 
his miracles who and what he was. 

37. And the Father who hath sent me, himself hath testified concerning 
me ; you have never heard his voice, or seen his shape. 38. And you 
have not his word abiding in you ; for whom he hath sent, him you be- 
lieve not. 39. Search the Scriptures ; for you think that you have eternal 
life in them : and they are they which testify concerning me. 40. And 
you will not come to me, that you may have life. 

37. And the Father who hath sent me. To limit this state- 
ment, as some have done, 1 to the voice which was heard at 
his baptism, (Matth. iii. 17,) is a mistake ; for he says in the 
past tense, that the Father (/zj/Aagrugjjx?) testified, in order to 
show that he did not come forward as an unknown person, 
because the Father had long ago distinguished him by such 
peculiar marks that, bringing them along with him, he might 
be recognized. I explain, therefore, that God testified con- 
cerning his Son, whenever in past times he held out to the 
ancient people the hope of salvation, or promised that the 
kingdom of Israel would be fully restored. In this manner 
the Jews must have formed an idea of Christ from the Pro- 
phets, before he was manifested in the flesh. When having 
him before their eyes, they despise and therefore reject him, 
they show plainly that they have no relish for the Law, with 
which Christ also reproaches them ; and yet they boasted of 
their knowledge of the Law, as if they had been brought up 
in the bosom of God. 

You have never heard his voice. After having complained 
that they do not receive him, Christ breaks out in still more 
severe language against their blindness. When he says that 
they had never heard the voice of God, or seen his shape, these 
are metaphorical expressions, by which he intends to state 
generally that they are utterly estranged from the knowledge 
of God. For as men are made known by the countenance 
and speech, so God utters his voice to us by the voice of the 
Prophets, and, in the sacraments, takes, as it were, a visible 
form, from which he may be known by us according to our 

1 " Aucuns s'abusent." 


feeble capacity. But he who does not recognize God in his 
lively image, plainly shows by this very fact that he worships 
no Deity but what he has himself contrived. For this rea- 
son Paul says, that the Jews had a vail placed before their 
eyes, that they might not perceive the glory of God in the 
face of Christ, (2 Cor. iii. 14.) 

38. And you have not his word abiding in you. This is the 
true way of profiting, when the word of God takes root in us, 
so that, being impressed on our hearts, it has its fixed abode 
there. Christ affirms that the heavenly doctrine has no place 
among the Jews, because they do not receive the Son of 
God, on whom it everywhere bestows commendation. And 
justly does he bring this reproach against them ; for it was 
not in vain that God spake by Moses and the Prophets. 
Moses had no other intention than to invite all men to go 
straight to Christ; and hence it is evident that they who 
reject Christ are not the disciples of Moses. Besides, bow 
can that man have the word of life abiding in him who drives 
from him the life itself? How can that man keep the doc- 
trine of the Law who destroys the soul of the Law, as far as 
lies in his power ? For the Law without Christ is empty 
and has no solidity. Just in proportion, therefore, as any 
man knows Christ, is the proficiency which he has made in 
the word of God. 

39. Search the Scriptures. We have said that the statement 
which Christ formerly made — that he has the Father for a 
witness in heaven — refers to Moses and the Prophets. Now 
follows a clearer explanation ; for he says that that testimony 
is to be found in the Scriptures. He again reproves them for 
their foolish boasting, because, while they acknowledged that 
they had life in the Scriptures, they perceived nothing in them 
but the dead letter. For he does not absolutely blame them 
for seeking life in the Scriptures, since they were given to us 
for that end and use, but because the Jews thought that the 
Scriptures gave them life, while they were widely opposed to 
its natural meaning, and — what is worse — while they quenched 
the light of life which was contained in them ; for how can 



the Law bestow life without Christ, who alone gives life to 

Again, we are taught by this passage, that if we wish to 
obtain the knowledge of Christ, 1 we must seek it from the 
Scriptures ; for they who imagine whatever they choose con- 
cerning Christ will ultimately have nothing instead of him 
but a shadowy phantom. First, then, we ought to believe 
that Christ cannot be properly known in any other way than 
from the Scriptures ; and if it be so, it follows that we ought 
to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding 
Christ in them. Whoever shall turn aside from this object, 
though he may weary himself throughout his whole life in 
learning, will never attain the knowledge of the truth; for what 
wisdom can we have without the wisdom of God ? Next, as 
we are commanded to seek Christ in the Scriptures, so he 
declares in this passage that our labours shall not be fruitless ; 
for the Father testifies in them concerning his Son in such a 
manner that He will manifest him to us beyond all doubt. 
But what hinders the greater part of men from profiting is, 
that they give to the subject nothing more than a superficial 
and cursory glance. Yet it requires the utmost attention, 
and, therefore, Christ enjoins us to search diligently for this 
hidden treasure. Consequently, the deep abhorrence of Christ 
which is entertained by the Jews, who have the Law con- 
stantly in their hands, must be imputed to their indolence. 
For the lustre of the glory of God shines brightly in Moses, 
but they choose to have a vail to obscure that lustre. By 
the Scriptures, it is well known, is here meant the Old Testa- 
ment ; for it was not in the Gospel that Christ first began to 
be manifested, but, having received testimony from the Law 
and the Prophets, he was openly exhibited in the Gospel. 

40. And you will not come to me. He again reproaches 
them that it is nothing but their own malice that hinders 
them from becoming partakers of the life offered in the 
Scriptures ; for when he says that they will not, he imputes 
the cause of their ignorance and blindness to wickedness and 

1 " Si nous voulons avoir cognoissance de Christ." 


obstinacy. And, indeed, since he offered himself to them so 
graciously, they must have been wilfully blind ; but when 
they intentionally fled from the light, and even desired to 
extinguish the sun by the darkness of their unbelief, Chrbt 
justly reproves them with greater severity. 

41.1 receive not glory from men. 42. But I know you, that you have 
not the love of God in you. 43. I come in the name of my Father, and 
you do not receive me ; if another come in his own name, him you will 
receive. 44. How can you believe, who receive glory from each other, 
ami sick not the glory which cometh from God alone? 45. Think not 
that 1 shall accuse you to the Father ; it is Moses in whom you trust, that 
aecuseth you. 46. For if you believed Moses, you would also believe me ; 
for be wrote concerning me 47. But if you do not believe his writings, 
how shall you believe my words ? 

41. I receive not glory from men. He proceeds in his re- 
proof; but that he may not be suspected of pleading his own 
cause, he begins by saying that he does not care for the glory 
of men, and that it gives him no concern or uneasiness to see 
himself despised ; and, indeed, he is too great to depend on the 
opinions of men, for the malignity of the whole world can 
take nothing from him, or make the slightest infringement on 
his high rank. He is so eager to refute their calumny that 
he exalts himself above men. Afterwards, he enters freely 
into invectives against them, and charges them with contempt 
and hatred of God. And though, in regard to honourable 
rank, there is an immense distance between Christ and us, 
still we ought boldly to despise the opinions of men. We 
ought, at least, to guard most zealously against being excited 
to anger, when ive are despised ; but, on the contrary, let us 
learn never to kindle into indignation, except when men do 
not render to God the honour due to Him. Let our souls 
be burned and tortured by this holy jealousy, whenever we 
see that the world is' so ungrateful as to reject God. 

42. That you have not the love of God in you. The love of 
God is here put for all religious feelings ; for no man can love 
God without beholding him with admiration and submitting 
entirely to his authority ; as, on the other hand, when the 
love of God does not prevail, there can be no desire to obey 
him. That is the reason why Moses gives this as the sum- 


mary or rtecapitulation (dvaycupaXaiueig) of the Law : thou shalt 
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, 
and with all thy might, (Deut. vi. 5.) 

43. I have come in my Father's name. The false prophets 
do indeed boast of this title, as the Pope, in the present day, 
boasts with open mouth that he is Christ's Deputy or Vicar ; 
and under this very disguise has Satan deceived wretched 
men from the beginning. But Christ here means the reality, 
and not a hypocritical pretence ; for when he testifies that he 
has come in his Father's name, he means not only that the 
Father has sent him, but that he faithfully executes the com- 
mission which he has received. By this mark he distinguishes 
the lawful teachers of the Church from spurious and pretended 
teachers. This passage, therefore, teaches that we ought 
boldly to reject all who exalt themselves, and, in their own 
name, claim authority over souls ; for he who is desirous to 
be reckoned a servant of God ought to have nothing separate 
from God. Now, if the whole doctrine of the Pope be ex- 
amined, even the blind will see that he has come in his own 
name. 1 

If another come in his oivn name, him you will receive. That 
the Jews do not love God, and have no reverence for him, 
Christ proves by this argument, that they will eagerly receive 
the false prophets, while they refuse to obey God ; for he 
takes for granted, that it is a sign of a wicked and ungodly 
mind, when men disregard truth and willingly assent to false- 
hoods. If it be objected that this is generally done rather 
through ignorance than through malice, the answer is easy. 
No man is exposed to the impostures of Satan, except so far 
as, through some wicked disposition, he prefers falsehood to 
truth. For how comes it that we are deaf when God speaks, 2 
and that Satan finds us ready and active, but because we are 
averse to righteousness, and of our own accord desire iniquity ? 
Though it ought to be observed that here Christ speaks 

1 In transposing the two portions of the exposition of this verse, I 
have followed the French version of our Author, who, having observed 
that his observations on the first clause of this verse were placed last, re- 
stored the clauses to their natural order. — Ed. 

2 " Que nous sommes sourds quand Dieu parle." 


chiefly of those whom God peculiarly enlightened, as he be- 
stowed on the Jews this privilege, that, having been instructed 
in his Law, they might keep the right way of salvation. It 
is certain that such persons lend an ear to false teachers for 
no other reason than because they wish to be deceived. Ac- 
cordingly, Moses says that, when false prophets arise, this is 
intended to prove and try the people if they love tlie Lord their 
God, (Deut. xiii. 3.) In many persons, no doubt, there 
appears to be an innocent and guileless simplicity, 1 but their 
eyes are undoubtedly blinded by the hypocrisy which lurks 
within their minds. For it is certain that God never shuts 
the door to those who knock, (Matth. vii. 8,) never disap- 
points those who sincerely pray to him, (Isa. xlv. 19.) Justly, 
therefore, does Paul ascribe it to the vengeance of God, when 
the power of deceiving is given to Satan, that they who have 
rejected the truth, and taken pleasure in unrighteousness, may 
believe a lie, and says that they perish who did not receive the 
love of the truth, that they might be saved, (2 Thess. ii. 9, 12.) 
In this manner is discovered the hypocrisy of many who, 
devoted to the impostures and wicked superstitions of the 
Pope, burn with envenomed rage against the Gospel ; for if 
they had hearts disposed to the fear of God, that fear would 
likewise produce obedience. 

44. How can you believe ? As it might be thought harsh 
to say that those who were from their childhood the trained 
disciples of the Law and the Prophets, should be charged 
with such gross ignorance and declared to be enemies of the 
truth, and as this might even be thought to be incredible, 
Christ shows what it is that hinders them from believing. It 
is because ambition has deprived them of sound judgment ; 
for he speaks, in a peculiar manner, to the priests and scribes, 
who, swelled with pride, could not obey God. This is a re- 
markable passage, which teaches that the gate of faith is shut 
against all whose hearts are preoccupied by a vain desire of 
earthly glory. For he who wishes to be somebody in the 
world must become wandering and unsteady, so that he will 

1 u Une simplicity hmoccntc et sans malice. 


have no inclination towards God. Never is a man prepared 
to obey the heavenly doctrine, until he is convinced that his 
principal object, throughout his whole life, ought to be, that 
he may be approved by God. 

But it may be thought that the wicked confidence, by 
which hypocrites exalt themselves in the presence of God, is 
a greater obstacle than worldly ambition ; and we know that 
this was also a disease with which the scribes were deeply 
infected. The answer is easy ; for Christ intended to tear from 
them the false mask of sanctity, by which they deceived the 
ignorant multitude. He therefore points, as with the finger, 
to the grosser vice, by which it may be made manifest to all 
that nothing is farther from their true character than what 
they wished to be reckoned. Besides, though hypocrisy 
exalts itself against God, still, in the world and before men, 
it is always ambitious ; nay, more, it is this vanity alone that 
swells us with false presumption, when we rely more on our 
own judgment, and that of others, than on the judgment of 
God. He who in reality presents himself before God as his 
Judge, must, of necessity, fall down humbled and dismayed, 
and finding nothing in himself on which he can place reliance. 1 
So, then, in order that any man may seek glory from God 
alone, he must be overwhelmed with shame, and flee to the 
undeserved mercy of God. And, indeed, they who look to 
God see that they are condemned and ruined, and that no- 
thing is left to them in which they can glory but the grace 
of Christ. The desire of such glory will always be attended 
by humility. 

So far as relates to the present passage, Christ's meaning 
is, that there is no other way in which men can be prepared 
for receiving the doctrine of the Gospel, than by withdrawing 
all their senses from the world, and turning them to God 
alone, and seriously considering that it is with God that they 
have to do, that, forgetting the flatteries by which they are 
accustomed to deceive themselves, they may descend into 
their own consciences. We need not wonder, therefore, if 
the Gospel in the present day find so few persons willing to 

1 " Et ne sentant rieu en soy-niesme sur quoy il sc puisse appuyer." 


be taught, since all are carried away by ambition. Nor need 
we wonder if many apostatize from the profession of the 
Gospel, for they are hurried away by their own vanity and 
fly off. So much the more earnestly ought we to seek this 
one thing, that, while we are mean and despised in the eyes 
of the world, and even overwhelmed within ourselves, we 
may be reckoned among the children of God. 

45. Think not that I shall accuse you to the Father. This is 
the way in which we ought to deal with obstinate and hard- 
ened persons, when they learn nothing by instruction and 
friendly warnings. They must be summoned to the judg- 
ment-seat of God. There are few persons, indeed, who 
openly mock God, but there are very many who, believing 
that God, whom they oppose as enemies, is gracious to them, 
amuse themselves at their ease with empty flatteries. Thus, 
in the present clay, our Giants, 1 though they wickedly trample 
under foot the whole doctrine of Christ, haughtily plume 
themselves on being the intimate friends of God. For who 
will persuade the Papists that Christianity exists anywhere 
else than among them ? Such were the scribes, with whom 
Christ is here disputing. Though they were the greatest 
despisers of the Law, yet they boasted of Moses in lofty 
terms, so that they did not hesitate to make use of him as a 
shield in opposing Christ. If he had threatened that he 
would be a powerful and formidable adversary to them, he 
knew that this would have been treated with the utmost 

1 The wars of the Giants held a conspicuous place in the ancient mytho- 
logy, and in the popular belief. Not to mention the poets, whose imagi- 
nations were kindled by such topics, they are formally introduced by 
Cicero, in a philosophical treatise, though only for the purpose of instruct- 
ing his readers to " despise and reject these fables." " The gods," says 
he, " as the fables relate, were not without wars and battles ; and that not 
only as in those described by Homer, when some of the gods were ranged 
on the one side, and some on the other side, of two opposing armies ; but 
even, as in the case of the Titans and Giants, they carried on their own 
battles. Such things (he adds) are said, and are very foolishly believed, 
and are full of absurdity and downright silliness." — (De Nat. Deorum, 
lib. ii.) The daring presumption and utter discomfiture of the Giants, in 
their fabulous wars, are sometimes alluded to by Calvin, and other Chris- 
tian writers, in describing the wickedness and folly of man, who stretrheth 
out his hand against God, and strengthened himself against the Almighty, 
(Job xv. 25.)— Ed. 


contempt ; and, therefore, he threatens that an accusation, 
drawn up by Moses, will be preferred against them. 

Moses, in whom you trust. There are some who think, that 
Christ here points out the distinction between his own office 
and that of Moses, because it belongs to the Law to convict 
men of being unbelievers. But this is a mistake ; for Christ 
did not intend that, but only intended to shake off the con- 
fidence of hypocrites, who falsely boasted of entertaining 
reverence for Moses ; just as if a person in the present day, 
in order to foil the Papists with their own weapon, 1 were to 
say, that they will find no enemies more decidedly opposed 
to them than the holy doctors of the Church, under whose 
authority they falsely and wickedly take shelter. 2 Let us 
also learn from it, that we ought not to glory in the Scrip- 
tures without a good reason ; for if we do not honour the Son 
of God by the true obedience of faith, all whom God hath 
raised up to be his witnesses will rise up against us as 
accusers at the last day. When he says, that they trust in 
Moses, he does not accuse them of superstition, as if they 
ascribed to Moses the cause of their salvation; but his mean- 
ing is, that they do wrong in relying on the protection of 
Moses, as if they had him to defend their wicked obstinacy. 

46. For if you believed Moses, you would also believe me. He 
shows why Moses will be their accuser. It is because they 
do not reject his doctrine. We know that it is impossible to 
offer a greater insult to the servants of God than when their 
doctrine is despised or reproached. Besides, those whom the 
Lord has appointed to be ministers of his word, ought to be 
ready to defend it against despisers; 3 and therefore, he gave 
to all his prophets a twofold commission, that they might 
teach and instruct for the salvation of believers, and that, one 
day, they might confound the reprobate by their testimony. 

For lie wrote concerning me. When Christ says, that Moses 
wrote concerning him, this needs no long proof with those who 
acknowledge that Christ is the end and soul of the Law. 

1 " Pour renibarrer les Papistcs de leur baston mesme." 

- " Du litre desquels lis se couvrent faussement et mescbamment." 

8 ■' Contrc cbntonipteurs." 


But if any person be not satisfied with this, and desire to 
have the passages pointed out to him, I would advise him, 
first, to read carefully the Epistle to the Hebrews, with which 
also agrees Stephen's sermon, in the seventh chapter of the 
Acts of the Apostles ; and, next, to observe the quotations 
which Paul applies to his purpose. I acknowledge, indeed, 
that there are few in which Moses expressly mentions Christ; 
but what was the use of the tabernacle, and sacrifices, and 
all the ceremonies, but to be figures drawn in conformity to 
that first pattern which was showed to him in the mountain ? 
(Exod. xxv. 40 ; Heb. viii. 5.) Thus, without Christ, the 
whole ministry of Christ vanishes. Again, we see how he 
continually reminds the people of the covenant of the Fathers 
which had been ratified in Christ, and even how he makes 
Christ to be the principal subject and foundation of the cove- 
nant. Nor was this unknown to the holy Fathers, who had 
always their eyes fixed on the Mediator. To treat the subject 
more largely, would be inconsistent with the brevity at which 
I aim. 

47. But if you do not believe his writings. Christ appears 
here to claim less authority for himself than for Moses ; and 
yet we know that heaven and earth have been shaken by the 
voice of the Gospel, (Heb. xii. 26.) But Christ accommo- 
dates his discourse to those to whom he speaks ; for the 
authority of the Law was, beyond all controversy, held sacred 
among the Jews ; and thus it was impossible that Christ 
should be inferior to Moses. To the same purpose is the 
contrast between ivritings and words; for he shows their un- 
belief to be more aggravated, because the truth of God, 
recorded in an authentic form, has no authority with them. 



1. Afterwards, Jesus went across the sea of Galilee, which is called (the 
sea) of Tiberias. 2. And a great multitude followed him, because they 
had seen his miracles, which he performed on those who were diseased. 
3. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there sat down with his dis- 
ciples. 4. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5. Jesus 
therefore, lifting up his eyes, and seeing that a great multitude came to 
him, saith to Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that those men may eat? 

6. (Now he said this, trying him; for he himself knew what he would do.) 

7. Philip answered him, Two hundred denarii of bread is not suffi- 
cient for them, that each of them may take a little. 8. One of his disci- 
ples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith to him, 9. There is here a 
boy, who hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes ; but what are these 
among so many ? 10. And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. (Xow 
there was much grass in that place.) The men therefore sat down, in 
number about five thousand. 11. And Jesus took the loaves, and, having 
given thanks, distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those 
who had sat down, and likewise of the fishes, as much as they wished. 12. 
And after they were satisfied, he said to his disciples, Gather the fragments 
which are left, that nothing may be lost. 13. They therefore gathered, 
and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five loaves which were 
left by those who had eaten. 

1. Afterwards, Jesus went. Although John was accustomed 
to collect those actions and sayings of Christ, which the other 
three Evangelists had omitted, yet in this passage, contrary to 
his custom, he repeats the history of a miracle which they had 
related. But he does so for the express purpose of passing 
from them to Christ's sermon, which was delivered next day 
at Capernaum, because the two things were connected ; and 
therefore this narrative, though the other three Evangelists 
have it in common with him, has this peculiarity, that it is 
directed to another object, as we shall see. The other Evangel- 
ists (Matth. xiv. 13 ; Mark vi. 32 ; Luke ix. 10) state that 
this happened shortly after the death of John the Baptist, 
oy which circumstance of time they point out the cause of 
Christ's departure ; for when tyrants have once imbrued 
their hands in the blood of the godly, they kindle into greater 
cruelty, in the same manner as intemperate drinking aggra- 
vates the thirst of drunkards. Christ therefore intended to 
abate the rage of Herod by his absence. He uses the term, 


Sea of Galilee, as meaning the lake of Gennesareth. When 
he adds that it was called the Sea of Tiberias, he explains 
more fully the place to which Christ withdrew ; for the whole 
lake did not bear that name, but only that part of it which 
lay contiguous to the bank on which Tiberias was situated. 

2. And a great multitude followed him. So great ardour in 
following Christ arose from this, that, having beheld his power 
in miracles, they were convinced that he was some great 
prophet, and that he had been sent by God. But the Evan- 
gelist here omits what the other three relate, that Christ 
employed a part of the day in teaching and in healing the 
sick, and that, when the sun was setting, his disciples re- 
quested him to send away the multitudes, (Matth. xiv. 13, 14 ; 
Mark vi. 34, 35 ; Luke ix. 11, 12 ;) for he reckoned it 
enough to give the substance of it in a few words, that he 
might take this opportunity of leading us on to the remaining 
statements which immediately follow. 

Here we see, in the first place, how eager was the desire 
of the people to hear Christ, since all of them, forgetting 
themselves, take no concern about spending the night in a 
desert place. So much the less excusable is our indifference, 
or rather our sloth, when we are so far from preferring the 
heavenly doctrine to the gnawings of hunger, that the 
slightest interruptions immediately lead us away from medi- 
tation on the heavenly life. Very rarely does it happen that 
Christ finds us free and disengaged from the entanglements 
of the world. So far is every one of us from being ready to 
follow him to a desert mountain, that scarcely one in ten can 
endure to receive him, when he presents himself at home in 
the midst of comforts. And though this disease prevails 
nearly throughout the whole world, yet it is certain that no 
man will be fit for the kingdom of God until, laying aside 
such delicacy, he leam to desire the food of the soul so ear- 
nestly that his belly shall not hinder him. 

But as the flesh solicits us to attend to its conveniences, 
we ought likewise to observe that Christ, of his own accord, 
takes care of those who neglect themselves in order to follow 


him. 1 For he does not wait till they are famished, and cry 
out that they are perishing of hunger, and have nothing to 
eat, but he provides food for them before they have asked it. 
We shall perhaps be told that this does not always happen, 
for we often see that godly persons, though they have been 
entirely devoted to the kingdom of God, are exhausted and 
almost fainting with hunger. I reply, though Christ is pleased 
to try our faith and patience in this manner, yet from hea- 
ven he beholds our wants, and is careful to relieve them, as 
far as is necessary for our welfare ; and when assistance is 
not immediately granted, it is done for the best reason, though 
that reason is concealed from us. 

3. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain. Christ unques- 
tionably sought a place of retirement till the feast of the Pass- 
over; and therefore it is said that he sat down on a mountain 
with his disciples. Such was undoubtedly the purpose which 
he formed as man ; but the purpose of God was different, 
which he willingly obeyed. Although, therefore, he avoided 
the sight of men, yet he permits himself to be led by the 
hand of God as into a crowded theatre; for there was a 
larger assembly of men in a desert mountain than in any popu- 
lous city, and greater celebrity arose from the miracle than 
if it had happened in the open market-place of Tiberias. We 
are therefore taught by this example to form our plans in 
conformity to the course of events, but in such a manner that, 
if the result be different from what we expected, we may 
not be displeased that God is above us, and regulates every- 
thing according to his pleasure. 

5. He saith to Philip. What we here read as having been 
said to Philip alone, the other Evangelists tell us, was said to 
all. But there is no inconsistency in this ; for it is probable 
that Philip spoke according to the opinion entertained by all, 
and, therefore, Christ replies to him in particular; just as 
John, immediately afterwards, introduces Andrew as speak- 

1 " Pour lo suyvre." 


ing, where the other Evangelists attribute the discourse to 
all alike. Perceiving that they have no conception of an 
extraordinary remedy, he then arouses their minds, which 
may be said to be asleep, so that they may, at least, have 
their eyes open to behold what shall be immediately exhibited 
to them. The design of all that is alleged by the disciples 
is, to persuade Christ not to detain the people ; and, perhaps, 
in this respect they consult their private advantage, that a 
part of the inconvenience may not fall upon themselves. 
Accordingly, Christ disregards their objections, and proceeds 
in his design. 

7. Two hundred denarii. As the denarius, according to the 
computation of Budceus, is equal to four times the value of 
a carolus and two deniers of Tours, this sum amounts to 
thirty-five francs, or thereby. 1 If you divide this sum among 
five thousand men, each hundred of them will have less than 
seventeenpence sterling. 2 If we now add about a thousand of 
women and children, it will be found that Philip allots to each 
person about the sixth part of an English penny, 3 to buy a 
little bread. But, as usually happens in a great crowd, he 
probably thought that there was a greater number of people 
present ; and as the disciples were poor and ill supplied with 
money, Andrew intended to alarm Christ by the greatness of 

1 The value of the old French coins passed through so many changes, 
that all reasoning about them must be involved in uncertainty ; but, so 
tin- as we have been able to ascertain, the value of a carolus of Tours, in 
Calvin's time, was nearly that of a penny sterling, and the denier was 
the tenth part of it, or nearly a modern centime of Paris. " Four times 
the carolus, with two deniers," would thus be 4 £ pence sterling, and, mul- 
tiplying that by 200, we have three pounds, ten shillings. Again, taking 
the franc (as Cotgrave rates it) at two shillings, 35 francs are also equal 
to three pounds, ten shillings. This is, at least, a curious coincidence, and 
the reader may compare it with a computation made from the livre Parisis, 
(Harmony, vol. ii. p. 234, n. 2.) It would appear, however, that Budceus 
and Calvin had estimated the denarius at little more than half its real 
value, which was sevenpence halfpenny sterling, taking silver at five shil- 
lings per ounce ; so that two hundred denarii would be equal to six pounds, 
five shillings sterling. — Ed. 

2 " Quatorze (fourteen) sols Tournois." According to Cotgrave, the 
" sol Tournois is the tenth part of our shilling, or one part in six better 
than our penny." — Ed. 

3 " Sesquituronicum ;" — " un denier Tournois et maille ;" — " one and 
a half denier of Tours." 


the sum, meaning that they were not wealthy enough to 
entertain so many people. 

10. Make the men sit down. That the disciples were not 
sooner prepared to cherish the hope which their Master held 
out, and did not remember to ascribe to his power all that 
was proper, was a degree of stupidity worthy of blame ; but 
no small praise is due to their cheerful obedience in now 
complying with his injunction, though they know not what 
is his intention, or what advantage they will derive from 
what they are doing. The same readiness to obey is mani- 
fested by the people ; for, while they are uncertain about the 
result, they all sit down as soon as a single word of command 
has been pronounced. And this is the trial of true faith, 
when God commands men to walk, as it were, in darkness. 
For this purpose let us learn not to be wise in ourselves, but, 
amidst great confusion, still to hope for a prosperous issue, 
when we follow the guidance of God, Avho never disappoints 
his own people. 

11. After having given thanks. Christ has oftener than 
once instructed us by his example that, whenever we take 
food, we ought to begin with prayer. For those things 
which God has appointed for our use, being evidences of his 
infinite goodness and fatherly love towards us, call on us to 
offer praise to Him ; and tJianksgiving, as Paul informs us, is 
a kind of solemn sanctification, by means of which the use of 
them begins to be pure to us, (1 Tim. iv. 4.) Hence it 
follows, that they who swallow them down without thinking 
of God, are guilty of sacrilege, and of profaning the gifts of 
God. And this instruction is the more worthy of attention, 
because we daily see a great part of the world feeding them- 
selves like brute beasts. When Christ determined that the 
bread given to the disciples should grow among their hands, 
we are taught by it that God blesses our labour when we are 
serviceable to each other. 

Let us now sum up the meaning of the whole miracle. It has 
this in common with the other miracles, that Christ displayed 
in it his Divine power in union with beneficence. It is also a 


confirmation to us of that statement by which lie exhorts us 
to seek the kingdom of God, promising that all other things shall 
be added to us, (Matth. vi. 33.) For if he took care of those 
-who were led to him only by a sudden impulse, how would 
he desert us, if we seek him with a firm and steady purpose ? 
True, indeed, he will sometimes allow his own people, as I 
have said, to suffer hunger ; but he will never deprive them 
of his aid ; and, in the meantime, he has very good reasons 
for not assisting us till matters come to an extremity. 

Besides, Christ plainly showed that he not only bestows 
spiritual life on the world, but that his Father commanded 
him also to nourish the body. For abundance of all blessings 
is committed to his hand, that, as a channel, he may convey 
them to us ; though I speak incorrectly by calling him a 
channel, for he is rather the living fountain flowing from the 
eternal Father. Accordingly, Paul prays that all blessings 
may come to us from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus 
Christ, in common, (1 Cor. i. 3 ;) and, in another passage, he 
shows that in all things ive ought to give thanks to God the 
Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Eph. v. 20.) And 
not only does this office belong to his eternal Divinity, but 
even in his human nature, and so far as he has taken upon 
him our flesh, 1 the Father has appointed him to be the dis- 
penser, that by his hands he may feed us. Now, though we 
do not every day see miracles before our eyes, yet not less 
bountifully does God display his power in feeding us. And 
indeed we do not read that, when he wished to give a supper 
to his people, he used any new means ; and, therefore, it 
would be an inconsiderate prayer, if any one were to ask that 
meat and drink might be given to him by some -unusual 

Again, Christ did not provide great delicacies for the 
people, but they who saw his amazing power displayed in that 
supper, were obliged to rest satisfied with barley-bread and 
fish without sauce. 2 And though he does not now satisfy 
Jive thousand men with/iue loaves, still he does not cease to feed 

1 "Mesme en son humanite, et entant qu'il a pris nostre chair. 

2 " De poissons sans sausse." 


the whole world in a wonderful manner. It sounds to us, no 
doubt, like a paradox, that man liveth not by bread alone, but 
by the word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God, (Deut. 
viii. 3.) For we are so strongly attached to outward means, 
that nothing is more difficult than to depend on the provi- 
dence of God. Hence it arises that we tremble so much, as 
soon as we have not bread at hand. And if we consider 
every thing aright, we shall be compelled to discern the 
blessing of God in all the creatures which serve for our 
bodily support ; x but use and frequency lead us to undervalue 
the miracles of nature. And yet, in this respect, it is not so 
much our stupidity as our malignity that hinders us ; for 
where is the man to be found who does not choose to 
wander astray in his mind, and to encompass heaven and 
earth a hundred times, rather than look at God who presents 
himself to his view ? 

13. And filed twelve baskets. ^Whenfour thousand men were 
fed by seven loaves, Matthew relates that the number of baskets 
filled with fragments was exactly the same with the number 
of the loaves, (Matth. xv. 37.) Since, therefore, a smaller 
quantity is sufficient for a greater number of men, and since 
the quantity left is nearly double, hence we see more clearly 
of what value is that blessing of God, against the sight of 
which we deliberately shut our eyes. We ought also to 
observe, in passing, that though Christ commands them to 
fill the baskets for illustrating the miracle, yet he likewise 
exhorts his disciples to frugality, when he says, Gather the 
fragments which are left, that nothing may be lost; for the 
increase of the bounty of God ought not to be an excitement 
to luxury. Let those, therefore, who have abundance, remem- 
ber that they will one day render an account of their immo- 
derate wealth, if they do not carefully and faithfully apply 
their superfluity to purposes which are good, and of which 
God approves. 

14. Those men, therefore, when they saw the miracle which Jesus had 
performed, said, This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world 

1 " En toutes creatures qui servent a nostre nouriture." 


15. And when Jesus knew that they would come and take him by force, to 
make him a king, he again withdrew alone into a mountain. 16. And when 
it was evening, his disciples went down to the sea. 17. And having 
entered into a ship, they came across the sea into Capernaum ; and it 
was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 18. And the sea arose 
by means of a great wind that blew. 19. When therefore they had rowed 
about five-and-twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the 
sea ; and when he approached the ship, 1 they were terrified. 20. lint he 
saith to them, It is I, be not terrified. 21. They were willing, therefore, 
to receive him into the ship ; and immediately the ship reached the place 
to which they were going. 

14. Those men, therefore. The miracle appears to have 
been attended by some advantage, that they acknowledge 
the author of it to be the Messiah ; for Christ had no other 
object in view. But immediately they apply to a different 
and improper purpose the knowledge which they have ob- 
tained concerning Christ. And it is a fault extremely com- 
mon among men, to corrupt and pervert his truth by their 
falsehoods, as soon as he has revealed himself to them ; and 
even when they appear to have entered into the right path, 
they immediately fall away. 

15. To make him a king. When those men intended to 
give to Christ the title and honour of king, there was some 
ground for what they did. But they erred egregiously in 
taking upon themselves the liberty of making a king ; for 
Scripture ascribes this as peculiar to God alone, as it is said, 
/ have appointed my king on my holy hill of Zion, (Ps. ii. 6.) 
Again, what sort of kingdom do they contrive for him ? An 
earthly one, which is utterly inconsistent with his person. 
Hence let us learn how dangerous it is, in the things of God, 
to neglect His word, and to contrive anything of our own 
opinion ; for there is nothing which the foolish subtlety of 
our understanding does not corrupt. And what avails the 
pretence of zeal, when by our disorderly worship we offer a 
greater insult to God than if a person were expressly and 
deliberately to make an attack on his glory ? 

We know how furious were the efforts of adversaries to 

1 u lis voyent Jesus cheminant sur la mer, s'approchant de la nasselle, 
dont ils eurent peur." — " They see Jesus walking on the sea, and approach- 
ing the ship, at which they were afraid." 

VOL. I. P 


extinguish the glory of Christ. That violence, indeed, 
reached its extreme point when he was crucified. But by 
means of his crucifixion salvation was obtained for the world, 1 
and Christ himself obtained a splendid triumph over death 
and Satan. If he had permitted himself to be now made a 
king, his spiritual kingdom would have been ruined, the 
Gospel would have been stamped with everlasting infamy, 
and the hope of salvation would have been utterly destroyed. 
Modes of worship regulated according to our own fancy, and 
honours rashly contrived by men, have no other advantage 
than this, that they rob God of his true honour, and pour 
upon him nothing but reproach. 

And take him by force. We must also observe the phrase, 
take by force. They wished to take Christ by force, the Evan- 
gelist says ; that is, with impetuous violence they wished to 
make him a king, though against his will. If Ave desire, 
therefore, that he should approve of the honour which we 
confer upon him, we ought always to consider what he re- 
quires. And, indeed, they Avho venture to offer to God hon- 
ours invented by themselves are chargeable with using some 
sort of force and violence towards him ; for obedience is the 
foundation of true worship. Let us also learn from it with 
what reverence we ought to abide by the pure and simple 
word of God; for as soon as we turn aside in the smallest 
degree, the truth is poisoned by our leaven, so that it is no 
longer like itself. They learned from the word of God that 
he who was promised to be the Redeemer would be a king ; 
but out of their own head they contrive an earthly kingdom, 
and they assign to him a kingdom contrary to the word of 
God. Thus, whenever Ave mix up our own opinions with 
theAA r ord of God, faith degenerates into fm'olous conjectures. 
Let believers, therefore, cultivate habitual modesty, lest 
Satan hurry them into an ardour of inconsiderate and rash 
zeal, 2 so that, like the Giants, they shall rush violently against 
God, Avho is never worshipped aright but when we receive 
him as he presents himself to us. 

1 " Le salut a este acquis aux homines ; " — " salvation was obtained for 

2 " En une ardeur de zele inconsidere et teineraire." 


It is astonishing that jive thousand men should have been 
seized with such daring presumption, that they did not hesi- 
tate, by making a new king, to provoke against themselves 
Pilate's army and the vast power 1 of the Roman empire; 
and it is certain that they would never have gone so far, if 
they had not, relying on the predictions of the Prophets, 
hoped that God would be on their side, and, consequently, 
that they would overcome. But still they went wrong in 
contriving a kingdom of which the Prophets had never spoken.' 
So far are they from having tbe hand of God favourable to 
aid their undertaking that, on the contrary, Christ withdraws. 
That was also the reason why wretched men under Popery 
wandered so long in gross darkness — while God was, as it 
were, absent — because they had dared to pollute the whole 
of his worship by their foolish inventions. 2 

16. His disciples went down. Christ undoubtedly intended 
to conceal himself until the crowd should disperse. We know 
how difficult it is to allay a popular tumult. Now, if they 
had openly attempted to do what they had intended, it 
would have been no easy matter afterwards to wipe off the 
stain which had once been fixed upon him. Meanwhile, he 
spent all that time in prayer, as the other Evangelists 
(Matth. xiv. 23; Mark vi. 46) relate; probably, that God 
the Father might repress that folly of the people. 3 
As to his crossing the lake in a miraculous manner, it is 
intended to profit his disciples by again confirming their 
faith. The advantage extended still farther; for next day 
all the people would easily see that he had not been brought 
thither by a boat or ship, 4 but that he had come by his own 
power; for they blockaded the shore from which he had to 
set out, and would scarcely have been drawn away from it, 
if they had not seen the disciples cross to a different place. 

17. It was now dark. John passes by many circumstances 

1 " La grande puissance." * " Par leurs folles inventions." 

3 On our Saviour's retirement into the mountain to pray, our Author 

has made very interesting and profitable observations. Harmony of the 

Evangelists, vol. ii. p. 237.— Ed. 
* " Par basteau ou navire." 


which the other Evangelists introduce; such as, that for 
several hours they struggled with a contrary wind ; for it is 
probable that the storm arose immediately after the night 
began to come on; and they tell us that Christ did not 
appear to his disciples till about the fourth watch of the 
night, (Matth. xiv. 28 ; Mark vi. 48.) Those who conjec- 
ture that they were still about the middle of the lake when 
Christ appeared to them, because John says that they had 
then advanced about twenty-Jive or thirty furlongs, are led into 
a mistake by supposing that they had sailed to the farther or 
opposite bank ; for Bethsaida, near which town, Luke tells 
us, the miracle was performed, (Luke ix. 10,) and Capernaum, 
which the ship reached, (John vi. 1 6,) were situated on the 
same coast. 

Pliny, in his fifth book, states that this lake was six mile3 
in breadth, and sixteen in length. Josephus (in the third 
book of the Wars of the Jews) assigns to it one hundred 
furlongs in length, and forty in breadth ; l and as eight fur- 
longs make one mile, we may easily infer how little the one 
description differs from the other. So far as relates to the 
present sailing, my opinion is, that they did not go over so 
great a space by direct sailing, but through being driven 
about by the tempest. 2 However that may be, the Evan- 
gelist intended to show that, when Christ presented himself 
to them, they were in the utmost danger. It may be thought 
strange that the disciples should be tormented in this man- 
ner, while others had nothing to disturb them in sailing; 
but in this manner the Lord often makes his people fall into 
alarming dangers, that they may more plainly and familiarly 
recognize him in their deliverance. 

19. They were terrified. The other Evangelists explain 
the cause of that fear to have been, that they thought that it 
was an apparition, (Matth. xiv. 26 ; Mark vi. 49.) Now it 

1 Our Author quotes inaccurately the measurement given by Josephus, 
whose words are : " Now this lake of Gennesareth is so called from the 
country adjoining to it. Its breadth is forty furlongs, and its length vne 
hundred and forty." — Wars of the Jews, III. x. 7. — Ed. 

2 " Mai3 estans agitcz de tempeste." 


is impossible not to be seized with consternation and dread, 
when an apparition is presented before our eyes ; for we con- 
clude that it is either some imposture of Satan, or some bad 
omen which God sends us. Besides, John here holds out 
to us, as in a mirror, what kind of knowledge of Christ 
we may obtain without the word, and what advantage may 
be reaped from that knowledge. For if he present a simple 
demonstration of his divinity, we immediately fall into our 
imaginations, and every person forms an idol for himself 
instead of Christ. After we have thus wandered in our 
understanding, this is immediately followed by trembling 
and a confused terror of heart. But when he begins to speak, 
we then obtain from his voice clear and solid knowledge, and 
then also joy and delightful peace dawn upon our minds. 
For there is great weight in these words : 

20. It is I: be not terrified. We learn from them that it 
is in Christ's presence alone that we have abundant grounds 
of confidence, so as to be calm and at ease. But this belongs 
exclusively to the disciples of Christ ; for we shall afterwards 
see that wicked men were struck down by the same words, 
It is I, (John xviii. 6.) The reason of the distinction is, 
that he is sent as a Judge to the reprobate and unbelievers 
for their destruction ; and, therefore, they cannot bear his 
presence without being immediately overwhelmed. But 
believers, who know that he is given to them to make pro- 
pitiation, as soon as they hear his name, which is a sure 
pledge to them both of the love of God and of their salva- 
tion, take courage as if they had been raised from death to 
life, calmly look at the clear sky, dwell quietly on earth, 
and, victorious over every calamity, take him for their shield 
against all dangers. Nor does he only comfort and encourage 
them by his word, but actually removes also the cause of the 
terror by allaying the tempest. 

22. Next day, the multitude standing on the other side of the sea, 
when they saw that there was do other ship there but only that into which 
his disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered into the ship 
with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone ; 23. And 
other ships came from Tiberias, near the place where they had eaten bread, 


after that the Lord had given thanks. 24. When therefore the multitude 
saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they also entered into the 
ships, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25. And having found 
him on the opposite side of the sea, they said to him, Rabbi, when earnest 
thou hither ? 

22. Next day. Here the Evangelist relates circumstances 
from which the multitude might conclude that Christ had 
gone across by divine power. There had been but one ship ; 
they see it go away without Christ ; next day, ships come 
from other places, by which they are conveyed to Capernaum ; 
and there they find Christ. It follows that he must have been 
conveyed across in a miraculous manner. There is an intricacy 
and apparent confusion (dvaxoXovdov) in the words, but still the 
meaning of them is plain enough ; for, in the 22d verse, John 
says that there had been but one ship, and that all saw it leave 
the shore and that place, and that it had not Christ as a 
passenger; and, in the 23d verse, he adds that ships came 

from Tiberias, by which the multitude passed over, which 
had remained on the shore, blockading, as it were, every out- 
let, that Christ might not escape. 

23. Near the place where they had eaten bread. The meaning 
of the words is doubtful ; for they may be explained, either 
that Tiberias was near the place where Christ had fed them with 
five loaves, or that the ships reached the shore which was 
near and below that place. I approve more highly of the 
latter exposition ; for Bethsaida, near which Luke states that 
the miracle was performed, is half-way between Tiberias and 
Capernaum. Accordingly, when ships came down from that 
place, which was farther up the lake, they sailed along that 
shore on which the multitude were standing ; and there can 
be no doubt that they came to land for the purpose of taking 
in passengers. 

After that the Lord had given thanks. When John again 
mentions that Christ gave thanks, it is not a superfluous 
repetition ; for he means that Christ obtained by prayer that 
those few loaves were sufficient for feeding so many people ; 
and as we are cold and indolent in prayer, he presses upon 
us the same thing a second time. 


25. On the other side of the sea. We have already said that 
Capernaum was not situated on the opposite shore; for 
Tiberias is situated on that part of the lake where it ia 
broadest, Bethsaida follows next, and Capernaum lies near 
the lowest part, not far from where the river Jordan issues 
from the lake. Now, when John places it on the other side of 
the lake itself, we must not understand him as if its position 
were directly across, but because, at the lower extremity, the 
lake made a large winding, and, on account of the bay that 
intervened, it was impossible to go by land without a very 
circuitous journey. The Evangelist therefore says, on the 
other side of the sea, adopting the mode of expression used by 
the common people, because the only direct and ordinary 
mode of conveyance was by a boat. 

26. Jesus answered them, and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, You seek 
me, not because you saw miracles, but because you ate of the loaves, and 
were satisfied. 27. Labour for food, not that which perisheth, but the 
food which endureth to eternal life, which the Son of man shall give to 
you ; for him hath God the Father sealed. 28. They said therefore to 
liiiu, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? 29. Jesus 
answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you may believe 
in him whom he hath sent. 

26. Jesus answered them. Christ does not reply to the 
question put to him, which would have been fitted to show 
to them his power in having come thither by a miracle. 1 But, 
on the contrary, he chides them for throwing themselves for- 
ward without consideration; for they were not acquainted 
with the true and proper reason of what he did, because they 
sought in Christ something else than Christ himself. The 
fault which he complains of in them is, that they seek Christ 
for the sake of the belly and not of the miracles. And yet 
it cannot be denied that they looked to the miracle; nay 
more, the Evangelist has already told us that they were ex- 
cited by the miracles to follow Christ, But because they 
abused the miracles for an improper purpose, he justly re- 
proaches them with having a greater regard to the belly than 
to miracles. His meaning was, that they did not profit by 
the works of God as they ought to have done ; for the true 

1 M Ce qui eust este" propre pour leur monstrer sa puissance, en ce qu'il 
estoit la venu par miracle." 


way of profiting would have been to acknowledge Christ as 
the Messiah in such a manner as to surrender themselves to 
be taught and governed by him, and, under his guidance, to 
aspire to the heavenly kingdom of God. On the contrary, 
they expect nothing greater from him than to live happily and 
at ease in this world. This is to rob Christ of his chief power ; 
for the reason why he was given by the Father and revealed 
himself to men is, that he may form them anew after the 
image of God by giving them his Holy Spirit, and that he 
may conduct them to eternal life by clothing them with his 

It is of great importance, therefore, what we keep in view 
in the miracles of Christ ; for he who does not aspire to the 
kingdom of God, but rests satisfied with the conveniences of 
the present life, seeks nothing else than to fill his belly. In 
like manner, there are many persons in the present day who 
would gladly embrace the gospel, if it were free from the 
bitterness of the cross, and if it brought nothing but carnal 
pleasures. Nay, we see many who make a Christian pro- 
fession, that they may live in greater gaiety and with less re- 
straint. Some through the expectation of gain, others through 
fear, and others for the sake of those whom they wish to 
please, profess to be the disciples of Christ. In seeking 
Christ, therefore, the chief point is, to despise the world and 
seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, (Matth. vi. 33.) 
Besides, as men very generally impose on themselves, and 
persuade themselves that they are seeking Christ in the best 
manner, while they debase the whole of his power, for this 
reason Christ, in his usual manner, doubles the word verily, 
as if by the oath he intended to bring to light the vice which 
lurks under our hypocrisy. 

27. Labour for food, not that which perisheth. He shows to 
what object our desires ought to be directed, namely, to 
eternal life ; but because, in proportion as our understandings 
are gross, we are always devoted to earthly things, for this 
reason he corrects that disease which is natural to us, before 
he points out what we ought to do. The simple doctrine 
would have been, " Labour to have the incorruptible food ;" 


but, knowing that the senses of men are held bound by- 
earthly cares, he first enjoins them to be loosed and freed 
from those cords, that they may rise to heaven. Not that 
he forbids his followers to labour that they may procure 
daily food ; but he shows that the heavenly life ought to be 
preferred to this earthly life, because the godly have no other 
reason for living here than that, being sojourners in the world, 
they may travel rapidly towards their heavenly country. 

Next, we ought to see what is the present question ; for, 
since the power of Christ is debased by those who are devoted 
to the belly and to earthly things, he argues what we ought 
to seek in him, and why we ought to seek it. He employs 
metaphors adapted to the circumstances in which his sermon 
was delivered. If food had not been mentioned, he would 
have said, without a figure, " You ought to lay aside anxiety 
about the world, and strive to obtain the heavenly life." But 
as those men were running to their fodder like cattle, without 
looking to anything better, 1 Christ presents his sermon in a 
metaphorical dress, and gives the name of food to everything 
that belongs to newness of life. We know that our souls are 
fed by the doctrine of the gospel, when it is efficacious in us 
by the power of the Spirit ; and, therefore, as faith is the life 
of the soul, all that nourishes and promotes faith is compared 
to food. 

Which endureth to eternal life. This kind of food he calls 
incorruptible, and says that it endureth to eternal life, in order 
to inform us that our souls are not fed for a day, but are 
nourished in the expectation of a blessed immortality ; be- 
cause the Lord commences the work of our salvation, that he 
may perform it till the day of Christ, (Philip, i. 6.) For this 
reason we must receive the gifts of the Spirit, that they may 
be earnests and pledges of eternal life. For, though the 
reprobate, after having tasted this food, frequently reject it, 
so that it is not permanent in them, yet believing souls feel 
that enduring power, when they are made partakers of the 
power of the Holy Spirit in his gifts, which is not of short 
duration, but, on the contrary, never fails. 

1 " Sans recrarder a ricn de meilleur." 


It is a frivolous exercise of ingenuity to infer, as some do, 
from the word labour or work, that we merit eternal life by 
our works ; for Christ metaphorically exhorts men, as we 
have said, to apply their minds earnestly to meditation on 
the heavenly life, instead of cleaving to the world, as they 
are wont to do; and Christ himself removes every doubt, 
when he declares that it is he who gineth the food ; for what 
we obtain by his gift no man procures by his own industry. 
There is undoubtedly some appearance of contradiction in 
these words ; but we may easily reconcile these two state- 
ments, that the spiritual food of the soul is the free gift of 
Christ, and that we must strive with all the affections of our 
heart to become partakers of so great a blessing. 

For him hath God the Father sealed. He confirms the preced- 
ing statement, by saying that he was appointed to us for that 
purpose by the Father. The ancient writers have misinter- 
preted and tortured this passage, by maintaining that Christ 
is said to be sealed, because he is the stamp and lively image 
of the Father. For he does not here enter into abstruse 
discussions about his eternal essence, but explains what he has 
been commissioned and enjoined to do, what is his office in 
relation to us, and what we ought to seek and expect from 
him. By an appropriate metaphor, he alludes to an ancient 
custom ; for they sealed with signets what they intended to 
sanction by their authority. Thus Christ — that it may not 
appear as if he claimed anything of himself, or by private 
authority ' — declares that this office was enjoined on him by 
the Father, and that this decree of the Father was mani- 
fested, as if a seal had been engraven on him. It may be 
summed up thus : As it is not every person who has the 
ability or the right 2 to feed souls with incorruptible food, 
Christ appears in public, and, while he promises that he will 
be the Author of so great a blessing, he likewise adds that 
he is approved by God, and that he has been sent to men 
with this mark, which is, as it were, God's seal or signet. 3 

1 " A fin qu'il ne semble que Christ vueille de soy-mesnie et d'une 
authorite privee s'attribuer quelque chose." 

2 " Que ce n'est pas une chose facile et commune a chacun." 

3 " Qui est comrne le seau ou cachet de Dieu." 


Hence it follows that the desire of those who shall present 
their souls to Christ, to be fed by him, will not be disap- 
pointed. Let us know, therefore, that life is exhibited to us 
in Christ, in order that each of us may aspire to it, not at 
random, but with certainty of success. We are, at the same 
time, taught that all who bestow this praise on any other 
than Christ are guilty of falsehood before God. Hence it is 
evident that the Papists, in every part of their doctrine, are 
altogether liars ; for as often as they invent any means of 
salvation in the room of Christ, so often do they — by erasing, 
as it were, the impression which has been made — spoil and 
deface, with wicked presumption and base treachery, this seal 
of God, which alone is authentic. That we may not fall into 
so dreadful a condemnation, let us learn to keep pure and 
entire for Christ all that the Father has given to him. 

28. What shall we do, that we may work the works of Godf 
The multitude understood well enough that Christ had ex- 
horted them to aim at something higher than the conveni- 
ences of the present life, and that they ought not to confine 
their attention to the earth, since God calls them to more 
valuable blessings. But, in putting this question, they are 
partly mistaken by not understanding the kind of labour; 
for they do not consider that God bestows upon us, by the 
hand of the Son, all that is necessary for spiritual life. First, 
they ask what they ought to do ; and next, when they use the 
expression, the works of God, they do not understand what 
they say, and talk without any definite object. 1 In this 
manner they manifest their ignorance of the grace of God. 
And yet they appear here to murmur disdainfully against 
Christ, as if he were accusing them groundlessly. " Dost 
thou suppose," say they, " that we have no solicitude about 
eternal life ? Why, then, dost thou enjoin us to do what i3 
beyond our power?" By the works of God we must under- 
stand those which God demands, and of which he approves. 

29. Tlie work of God is this. They had spoken of works. 
1 " lis n'entendent point ce qu'ils disent, et parlent sans certain but." 


Christ reminds them of one work, that is, faith; by which he 
means that all that men undertake without faith is vain and use- 
less, but that faith alone is sufficient, because this alone does God 
require from us, that we believe. For there is here an implied 
contrast between faith and the works and efforts of men ; as 
if he had said, Men toil to no purpose, when they endeavour 
to please God without faith, because, by running, as it were, 
out of the course, they do not advance towards the goal. 
This is a remarkable passage, showing that, though men tor- 
ment themselves wretchedly throughout their whole life, still 
they lose their pains, if they have not faith in Christ as the 
rule of their life. Those who infer from this passage that 
faith is the gift of God are mistaken ; for Christ does not 
now show what God produces in us, but what he wishes 
and requires from us. 

But we may think it strange that God approves of nothing 
but faith alone ; for the love of our neighbour ought not to be 
despised, and the other exercises of religion do not lose their 
place and honour. So then, though faith may hold the 
highest rank, still other works are not superfluous. The reply 
is easy ; for faith does not exclude either the love of our 
neighbour or any other good work, because it contains them 
all within itself. [Faith is called the only work of God, because 
by means of it we possess Christ, and thus become the sons of 
God, so that he governs us by his Spirit. So then, because 
Christ does not separate faith from its fruits, we need not 
wonder if he make it to be the first and the last. 1 ""] 

That you believe in him whom he hath sent. What is the 
import of the word believe, we have explained under the 
Third Chapter. It ought always to be remembered that, in 
order to have a full perception of the power of faith, we must 
understand what Christ is, in whom we believe, and why he 
was given to us by the father. It is idle sophistry, under 

1 " Proram et puppim," literally, " stem and stern," a Latin idiom for 
(he ivlwle. The Author's French version (ed. 1558) renders the clause, 
" il ne se faut point esbahir s'il constitue en elle la fin et le commence- 
ment ;" — " we must not be astonished if he makes it to be the end and the 
beginning ;" and in ed. 1564, it runs thus, " ce n'est pas merveille que la 
foy est tout ce que Dieu requiert ;"— " it is not wonderful that faith is all 
that God requires." 


the pretext of this passage, to maintain that we are justified 
by works, if faith justifies, because it is likewise called a toork. 
First, it is plain enough that Christ does not speak with strict 
accuracy, when he calls faith a icork, just as Paul makes a 
comparison between the law of faith and the lata of works, 
(Rom. iii. 27.) Secondly, when we affirm that men are not 
justified by icorks, we mean works by the merit of which men 
may obtain favour with God. Now faith brings nothing to 
God, but, on the contrary, places man before God as empty 
and poor, that he may be filled with Christ and with his 
grace. It is, therefore, if we may be allowed the expression, 
a passive work, to which no reward can be paid, and it 
bestows on man no other righteousness than that which he 
receives from Christ. 

30. They said therefore to him, What sign doest thou then, that we 
may see and believe thee? What dost thou work? 1 31. Our fathers 
ate manna in the wilderness, as it is written, He gave them bread of 
heaven to eat, (Exod. xvi. 15 ; Ps. lxxviii. 24.) 32. Jesus therefore 
said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not bread from 
heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 2 33. For 
the bread of God is this which hath come down from heaven, and giveth 
life to the world. 

30. What sign doest thou ? This wickedness abundantly 
proves how truly it is said elsewhere, This tvicked generation 
seeketh a sign, (Matth. xii. 39.) They had been at first 
drawn to Christ by the admiration of his miracles or signs, 
and afterwards, through amazement at a new sign, they 
acknowledged Christ to be the Messiah, and, with that con- 
viction, wished to make him a king ; but now they demand a 
sign from him, as if he were a man unknown to them. Whence 
came such sudden forgetfulness, but because they are ungrate- 
ful to God, and, through their own malice, are blind to his 
power, which is before their eyes ? Nor can it be doubted 
that they treat disdainfully all the miracles which they had 
already beheld, because Christ does not comply with their wishes, 

1 " Quelle ceuvre fais-tu? " — " What work doest thou ?" 

2 " Moyse ne vous a point donne le pain du ciel ; mais mon Pere vous 
donne le vray pain du ciel." — " Moses gave you not the bread of heaven ; 
but my Father giveth you the true bread of heaven." 


and because they do not find him to be what they imagined 
him to be. If he had given them expectation of earthly 
happiness, he would have been highly applauded by them ; 
they would undoubtedly have hailed him as a Prophet, and 
the Messiah, and the Son of God ; but now, because he 
blames them for being too much addicted to the flesh, they 
think that they ought not to listen to him any more. And 
in the present day, how many are there who resemble them ! 
At first, because they promise to themselves that Christ will 
flatter their vices, they eagerly embrace the gospel, and call 
for no proof of it ; but when they are called to deny the 
flesh and to bear the cross, then do they begin to renounce 
Christ and ask whence the gospel came. In short, as soon 
as Christ does not grant their prayers, he is no longer their 

31. Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness. Thus we see 
that Christ put his finger on the sore, when he told them 
that they came like brute beasts to fill their belly ; for they 
discover this gross disposition, when they demand a Messiah 
by whom they are to be fed. And as to the magnificent 
terms in which they extol the grace of God in the manna, 
they do this cunningly, in order to bury the doctrine of 
Christ, by which he condemned them for immoderate desire 
of corruptible food ; for they contrast with it the magnificent 
title bestowed on the manna, when it is called heavenly bread. 
But when the Holy Spirit bestows on the manna the hon- 
ourable appellation of the bread of heaven, (Ps. lxxviii. 24,) it 
is not with this intention, as if God fed. his people, like a 
herd of swine, and gave them nothing more valuable ; and, 
therefore, they are without excuse, when they wickedly re- 
ject the spiritual food of the soul, which God now offers to 

32. Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not bread 
from heaven. Christ appears to contradict what was quoted 
from the psalm, but he speaks only by comparison. The 
manna (jft) is called the bread of heaven, but it is for the 
nourishment of the body ; but the bread which ought truly 


and properly to be reckoned heavenly, is that which gives 
spiritual nourishment to the soul. Christ therefore makes a 
contrast here between the world and heaven, because we 
ought not to seek the incorruptible life but in the kingdom 
of heaven. In this passage, truth is not contrasted with 
shadows, as is often done elsewhere ; but Christ considers 
what is the true life of man, or, in other words, what it is 
that makes him different from brute beasts, and excellent 
among the creatures. 

My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. When he 
adds these words, the meaning is, " The manna which Moses 
gave to your fathers did not bring heavenly life, but now 
heavenly life is truly exhibited to you." True, it is the Father 
whom he calls the giver of this bread, but he means that it is 
given by his own hand. Thus the contrast relates, not to Moses 
and God, but to Moses and Christ. Now, Christ represents 
his Father rather than himself as the Author of this gift, in 
order to procure for himself deeper reverence ; as if he had 
said, " Acknowledge me to be the minister of God, by whose 
hands he wishes to feed you to eternal life." But, again, 
this appears to be inconsistent with the doctrine of Paul, 
who calls the manna — spiritual food, (1 Cor. x. 3.) I reply, 
Christ speaks according to the capacity of those with whom 
he has to deal, and this is not uncommon in Scripture. We 
see how variously Paul speaks about circumcision. When 
he writes about the ordinance, he calls it the seal of faith, 
(Rom. iv. 11 ;) but when he has to contend with false 
apoetles, he calls it rather a seal of cursing, and that by tak- 
ing it with the qualities which they ascribed to it, and 
according to their opinion. 1 Let us consider what was the 
objection made against Christ, namely, that he did not prove 
himself to be the Messiah, if he did not supply his followers 
with bodily food. Accordingly, he does not inquire what it 
was that was prefigured by the manna, but maintains that 
the bread with which Moses fed their bellies was not true 

1 "Etce en la prcnant avee les qualitez qu'ils lny altribuoyent, et scion 
lour Bens," 


33. For the bread of God. Christ reasons negatively from 
the definition to the thing defined, in this manner : " The 
heavenly bread is that which hath come down from heaven to give 
life to the icorld. In the manna there was nothing of this sort ; 
and, therefore, the manna was not the heavenly bread." But, 
at the same time, he confirms what he formerly said, namely, 
that he is sent by the Father, in order that he may feed men 
in a manner far more excellent than Moses. True, the manna 
came down^-cm the visible heaven, that is, from the clouds ; 
but not from the eternal kingdom of God, from which life 
flows to us. And the Jews, whom Christ addresses, looked 
no higher than that the bellies of their fathers were well 
stuffed and fattened in the wilderness. 

What he formerly called the bread of heaven, he now calls 
the bread of God ; not that the bread which supports us in 
the present life comes from any other than God, but because 
that alone can be reckoned the bread of God ' which quickens 
souls to a blessed immortality. This passage teaches that 
the whole world is dead to God, except so far as Christ 
quickens it, because life will be found nowhere else than in 

Which hath come down from heaven. In the coming down 
from heaven two things are worthy of observation ; first, that 
we have a Divine life in Christ, because he has come from 
God to be the Author of life to us ; secondly, that the 
heavenly life is near us, so that ice do not need to Jly above the 
clouds or to cross the sea, (Deut. xxx. 12, 13 ; Horn. x. 6-8 ;) 
for the reason why Christ descended to us was, that no man 
could ascend above. 

34. They said therefore to him, Lord, give us always this bread. 35. 
Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life ; he that cometh to me shall 
never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst. 36. But I 
have told you that you have also seen me and do not believe. 37. All 
that the Father giveth me shall come to me ; and him that cometh to me 
I will not cast out ; 38. For I came down from heaven, not to do my 
own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39. And this is the will of the 
Father who sent me, that of all that he hath given me I should lose nothing, 
but should raise it up again at the last day. 40. And this is the will of 
him who sent me, that whosoever seeth the Son, and believeth in him, 
sbaJl have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 

1 " Pain do Dieu." 


34. Give us always this bread. There is no doubt that 
they speak ironically, to accuse Christ of vain boasting, when 
he said that he was able to give the bread of life. Thus 
wretched men, while they reject the promises of God, are not 
satisfied with this evil alone, but put Christ in their room, as 
if he were chargeable with their unbelief. 

35. / am the bread of life. First, he shows that the bread f 
which they asked in mockery, is before their eyes ; and, next, 
he reproves them. He begins with doctrine, to make it more 
evident that they were guilty of ingratitude. There are two 
parts of the doctrine ; for he shows whence we ought to seek 
life, and how we may enjoy it. "We know what gave occasion 
to Christ to use those metaphors ; it was because manna and 
daily food had been mentioned. But still this figure is better 
adapted to teach ignorant persons than a simple style. When 
we eat bread for the nourishment of the body, we see more 
clearly not only our own weakness, but also the power of 
divine grace, than if, without bread, God were to impart a 
secret power to nourish the body itself. Thus, the analogy 
which is traced between the body and the soul, enables us to 
perceive more clearly the grace of Christ. For when we 
learn that Christ is the bread by which our souls must be fed, 
this penetrates more deeply into our hearts than if Christ 
simply said that he is our life. 

It ought to be observed, however, that the word bread does 
not express the quickening power of Christ so fully as we 
feel it ; for bread does not commence life, but nourishes and 
upholds that life which we already possess. But, through 
the kindness of Christ, we not only continue to possess life, 
but have the beginning of life, and therefore the comparison 
is partly inappropriate ; but there is no inconsistency in this, 
for Christ adapts his style to the circumstances of the dis- 
course which he formerly delivered. Now the question had 
been raised, Which of the two was more eminent in feeding 
men, Moses or Christ himself? This is also the reason why 
he calls it bread only, for it was only the manna that they 
objected to him, and, therefore, he reckoned it enough to 
contrast with it a different kind of bread. The simple doctrine 
VOL. I. Q 


is, " Our souls do not live by an intrinsic power, so to speak, 
that is, by a power which they have naturally in themselves, 1 
but borrow life from Christ." 

He who cometh to me. He now defines the way of taking 
this food ; it is when we receive Christ by faith. For it is 
of no avail to unbelievers that Christ is the bread of life, 
because they remain always empty ; but then does Christ 
become our bread, when we come to him as hungry persons, 
that he may fill us. To come to Christ and to believe mean, in 
this passage, the same thing ; but the former word is intended 
to express the effect of faith, namely, that it is in consequence 
of being driven by the feeling of our hunger that we fly to 
Christ to seek life. 

Those who infer from this passage that to eat Christ is faith, 
and nothing else, reason inconclusively. I readily acknow- 
ledge that there is no other way in which we eat Christ 
than by believing ; but the eating is the effect and fruit of faith 
rather than faith itself. For faith does not look at Christ 
only as at a distance, but embraces him, that he may become 
ours and may dwell in us. It causes us to be incorporated 
with him, to have life in common with him, and, in short, to 
become one ivith him, (John xvii. 21.) It is therefore true 
that by faith alone we eat Christ, provided we also understand 
in what manner faith unites us to him. 

Shall never thirst. This appears to be added without any 
good reason ; for the office of bread is not to quench thirst, but 
to allay hunger. Christ therefore attributes to bread more 
than its nature allows. I have already said, that he employs 
the word bread alone, because it was required by the com- 
parison between the manna and the heavenly power of Christ, 
by which our souls are sustained in life. At the same time, 
by the word bread, he means in general all that nourishes us, 
and that according to the ordinary custom of his nation. 
For the Hebrews, by the figure of speech called synecdoche, 
use the word bread for dinner or supper ; and when we ask 
from God our daily bread, (Matth. vi. 11,) we include drink 
and all the other parts of life. The meaning therefore is, 

1 " Qu'elles ayent en ellcs naturellemcnt." 


" Whoever shall betake himself to Christ, to have life from 
him, will want nothing, but will have in abundance all that 
contributes to sustain life." 

36. But I have told you. He now reproves them for wick- 
edly rejecting the gift of God, which is offered to them. 
Now, that man is chargeable with wicked contempt of God, 
who rejects what he knows that God has given him. If 
Christ had not made known his power, and plainly showed 
that he came from God, the plea of ignorance might have 
alleviated their guilt; but when they reject the doctrine of 
him whom they formerly acknowledged to be the Lord's 
Messiah, it is extreme baseness. It is no doubt true, that 
men never resist God purposely, so as to reflect that they 
have to do with God ; and to this applies the saying of Paul, 
They would never have crucified the Lord of glory, if they had 
known him, (1 Cor. ii. 8.) But unbelievers, because they 
willingly shut their eyes against the light, are justly said to 
see that which immediately vanishes from their sight, because 
Satan darkens their understandings. This, at least, is beyond 
all controversy, that when he said that they saw, we must 
not understand him to mean his bodily appearance, but rather 
that he describes their voluntary blindness, because they 
might have known what he was, if their malice had not pre- 
vented them. 

37. All that the Father giveth me. That their unbelief may 
not detract anything from his doctrine, he says, that the cause 
of so great obstinacy is, that they are reprobate, and do not 
belong to the flock of God. His intention, therefore, in dis- 
tinguishing here between the elect and the reprobate is, that 
the authority of his doctrine may remain unimpaired, though 
there are many who do not believe it. For, on the one hand, 
ungodly men calumniate and utterly despise the word of God, 
because they are not moved by reverence for it ; and, on the 
other hand, many weak and ignorant persons entertain doubts 
whether that which is rejected by a great part of the world 
be actually the word of God. Christ meets this offence, when 
he affirms, that all those who do not believe are not his own, 


and that we need not wonder if such persons have no relish 
for the word of God, but that it is embraced by all the child- 
ren of God. In the first place, he says, that all whom the 
Father giveth him come to him ; by which words he means, that 
faith is not a thing which depends on the will of men, so that 
this man and that man indiscriminately and at random be- 
lieve, but that God elects those whom he hands over, as it 
were, to his Son ; for when he says, that whatever is given 
cometh, we infer from it, that all do not come. Again, we 
infer, that God works in his elect by such an efficacy of the 
Holy Spirit, that not one of them falls away ; for the word 
give has the same meaning as if Christ had said, "Those 
whom the Father hath chosen he regenerates, and gives to 
me, that they may obey the Gospel." 

. And him that cometh to me I will not cast out. This is added 
for the consolation of the godly, that they may be fully per- 
suaded that they have free access to Christ by faith, and 
that, as soon as they have placed themselves under his pro- 
tection and safeguard, they will be graciously received by 
him. Hence it follows, that the doctrine of the Gospel will 
be salutary to all believers, because no man becomes a dis- 
ciple of Christ who does not, on the other hand, feel and 
experience him to be a good and faithful teacher. 

38. For I came doicn from heaven. This is a confirmation 
of the preceding statement, that we do not seek Christ in 
vain. For faith is a work of God, by which he shows that 
we are his people, and appoints his Son to be the protector 
of our salvation. Now the Son has no other design than to 
fulfil the commands of his Father. Consequently, he will 
never reject those whom his Father hath sent. Hence, finally, 
it follows, that faith will never be useless. As to the distinc- 
tion which Christ makes between his own will and the will 
of the Father, in this respect, he accommodates himself to 
his hearers, because, as the mind of man is prone to distrust, 
we are wont to contrive some diversity which produces hesi- 
tation. To cut off every pretence for those wicked imagina- 
tions, Christ declares, that he has been manifested to the 


world, in order that he may actually ratify what the Father 
hath decreed concerning our salvation. 

39. And this is the tcill of the Father. He now testifies, 
that this is the design of the Father, that believers may find 
salvation secured in Christ ; from which again it follows, that 
all who do not profit by the doctrine of the Gospel are repro- 
bate. Wherefore, if we see that it turns to the ruin of many, 
we have no reason to despond, because those men willingly 
draw down the evil on themselves. Let us rest satisfied with 
this, that the Gospel will always have power to gather the 
elect to salvation. 

That I should lose none of it. That is, " That I should not 
suffer it to be taken from me or perish ;" by which he means, 
that he is not the guardian of our salvation for a single day, 
or for a few days, but that he will take care of it to the end, 
so that he will conduct us, as it were, from the commence- 
ment to the termination of our course ; and therefore he men- 
tions the last resurrection. This promise is highly necessary 
for us, who miserably groan under so great weakness of the 
flesh, of which every one of us is sufficiently aware ; and at 
every moment, indeed, the salvation of the whole world might 
be ruined, were it not that believers, supported by the hand of 
Christ, advance boldly to the day of resurrection. Let this, 
therefore, be fixed in our minds, that Christ has stretched 
out his hand to us, that he may not desert us in the midst of 
the course, but that, relying on his goodness, we may boldly 
raise our eyes to the last day. 

There is also another reason why he mentions the resurrec- 
tion. It is because, so long as our life is hidden, (Colos. iii. 
3,) we are like dead men. For in what respect do believers 
differ from wicked men, but that, overwhelmed with afflic- 
tions, and like sheep destined for the slaughter, (Rom. viii. 36,) 
they have always one foot in the grave, and, indeed, are not far 
from being continually swallowed up by death ? Thus there 
remains no other support of our faith and patience but this, 
that we keep out of view the condition of the present life, and 
apply our minds and our senses to the last day, and pass 


through the obstructions of the world, until the fruit of our 
faith at length appear. 

40. And this is the will of him who sent me. He had said 
that the Father had committed to him the protection of our 
salvation ; and now he likewise describes the manner in 
which it is accomplished. The way to obtain salvation, 
therefore, is to obey the Gospel of Christ. This point he had, 
indeed, glanced at a little before, but now he expresses more 
fully what he had spoken somewhat obscurely. And if it is 
the will of God that those whom he has elected shall be saved, 
and if in this manner he ratifies and executes his eternal 
decree, whoever he be that is not satisfied with Christ, but 
indulges in curious inquiries about eternal predestination, 
such a person, as far as lies in his power, desires to be saved 
contrary to the purpose of God. The election of God is in 
itself hidden and secret ; the Lord manifests it by calling, 
that is, when he bestows on us this blessing of calling us. 1 

They are madmen, therefore, who seek their own salvation 
or that of others in the whirlpool of predestination, not keep- 
ing the way of salvation which is exhibited to them. Kay 
more, by this foolish speculation, they endeavour to overturn 
the force and effect of predestination ; for if God has elected 
us to this end, that we may believe, take away faith, and elec- 
tion w T ill be imperfect. But we have no right to break through 
the order and succession of the beginning and the end, since 
God, by his purpose, hath decreed and determined that it 
shall proceed unbroken. 2 Besides, as the election of God, by 
an indissoluble bond, draws his calling along with it, so when 
God has effectually called us to faith in Christ, let this have 
as much weight with us as if he had engraven his seal to 
ratify his decree concerning our salvation. For the testi- 
mony of the Holy Spirit is nothing else than the sealing of 
our adoption, (Rom. viii. 15.) To every man, therefore, his 
faith is a sufficient attestation of the eternal predestination 

1 " C'est a dire, quand il nous fait ce bien de nous appeler." 

2 " Or ne nous est-il permis de rompre l'ordre et la suite du commence- 
ment avcc la fin, puis (pie Dieu par son conseil l'a ainsi ordonne et voulu 
que cela allast d'un fil." 


of God, so that it would be a shocking sacrilege ' to carry 
the inquiry farther ; for that man offers an aggravated insult 
to the Holy Spirit, who refuses to assent to his simple 

Wlwsocvcr seeth the Son, and believeth in him. He uses the 
words, see and believe, in contrast with what he had formerly 
said ; for he had reproached the Jews with not believing, even 
though they saw, (ver. 36.) But now, speaking of the sons 
of God, with the feeling which they have of the power of 
God in Christ, he joins the obedience of faith. Moreover, 
these words show that faith proceeds from the knowledge of 
Christ ; not that it desires anything beyond the simple word 
of God, but because, if we trust in Christ, we must perceive 
what he is, and what he brings to us. 

41. The Jews therefore murmured concerning him, because he said, I 
am the bread which have come down from heaven. 42. And they said, 
Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know ? 
How therefore doth he say, I have come down from heaven ? 43. Jesus 
therefore answered, and said to them, Murmur not among yourselves. 
44. No man can come to me, unless the Father, who hath sent me, draw 
him ; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45. It is written in the 
Prophets, And they shall be all taught by God ; whosoever therefore hath 
heard my Father, and hath learned, 2 coineth to me. 

41. Tlie Jews therefore murmured concerning him. The 
Evangelist explains the cause of the murmuring to have 
been, that the Jews were offended at the mean condition of 
Christ's human nature, 3 and did not perceive in him any 
thing Divine or heavenly. Yet he shows that they had a 
twofold obstruction. One they had framed for themselves 
out of a false opinion, when they said, Is not this Jesus, the son 
of Joseph, tchose father and mother we know ? Another arose 
from a wicked sentiment, that they did not think that Christ 
w r as the Son of God, because he came down to men clothed 
with our flesh. 4 But we are guilty of excessive malignity, if 
we despise the Lord of glory because on our account he 
emptied himself, and took upon him the form of a servant, 

1 " Un sacrilege horrible." 

2 " Quiconque done a ouy mon Pere, et a appris." 

3 " De la petitesse de Christ, et de sa humaine condition ;" — " at the 
meanness of Christ, and of his human condition." 

4 " Prenant nostre chair." 


(Philip, ii. 7 ;) for this was rather an illustrious proof of his 
boundless love towards us, and of his wonderful grace. Be- 
sides, the Divine majesty of Christ was not so concealed 
under the mean and contemptible appearance of the flesh, as 
not to give out the rays of his brightness in a variety of 
ways ; but those gross and stupid men wanted eyes to see 
his conspicuous glory. 

We, too, sin daily in both of these ways. First, it is a 
great hinderance to us, that it is only with carnal eyes that 
we behold Christ ; and this is the reason why we perceive 
in him nothing magnificent, for by our sinful views we per- 
vert all that belongs to him and to his doctrine, so unskilful 
are we to profit by them, or to view them in the proper 
light. 1 Secondly, not satisfied with this, we adopt many 
false imaginations, which produce a contempt of the Gospel. 
Nay, there are even many who frame for themselves monsters, 
that they may make them a pretence for hating the Gospel. 
In this manner the world deliberately drives away the grace 
of God. Now the Evangelist expressly names the Jews, in 
order to inform us that the murmuring proceeded from those 
who gloried in the title of faith and of the Church, that we 
may all learn to receive Christ with reverence, when he comes 
down to us, and that, in proportion as he comes nearer to us, 
we may more cheerfully approach to him, that he may raise 
us to his heavenly glory. 

43. Murmur not among yourselves. He throws back on 
them the blame of the murmuring, as if he had said, " My 
doctrine contains no ground of offence, but because you are 
reprobate, it irritates your envenomed breasts, and the reason 
why you do not relish it is, that you have a vitiated taste." 

44. No man can come to me, unless the Father, who hath sent 
me, draw him. He does not merely accuse them of wicked- 
ness, but likewise reminds them, that it is a peculiar gift of 
God to embrace the doctrine which is exhibited by him ; 
which he does, that their unbelief may not disturb weak 

1 " Tant nous somnies mal adroits a faire nostre profit des choses, et les 
prendre de la sorte qu'il faut." 


minds. For many are so foolish that, in the things of God, 
they depend on the opinions of men ; in consequence of 
which, they entertain suspicions about the Gospel, as soon as 
they see that it is not received by the world. Unbelievers, 
on the other hand, flattering themselves in their obstinacy, 
have the hardihood to condemn the Gospel because it does 
not please them. On the contrary, therefore, Christ declares 
that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all 
without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a 
new understanding and a new perception are requisite ; and, 
therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but 
that it is God who gives it. 

Unless the Father draw him. To come to Christ being here 
used metaphorically for believing, the Evangelist, in order to 
carry out the metaphor in the apposite clause, says that 
those persons are drawn whose understandings God en- 
lightens, and whose hearts he bends and forms to the obe- 
dience of Christ. The statement amounts to this, that we 
ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel ; 
because no man will ever of himself be able to come to 
Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit ; and 
hence it follows that all are not drawn, but that God bestows 
this grace on those whom he has elected. True, indeed, as 
to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to compel men 
by external force ; but still it is a powerful impulse of the 
Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were 
unwilling and reluctant. It is a false and profane assertion, 
therefore, that none are draxcn but those who are willing to 
be drawn, 1 as if man made himself obedient to God by his 
own efforts ; for the willingness with which men follow God 
is what they already have from himself, who has formed their 
hearts to obey him. 

45. It is written in the Prophets. Christ confirms by the 
testimony of Isaiah what he said, that no man can come to 
him, unless he be drawn by the Father. He uses the word 
prophets in the plural number, because all their prophecies had 

1 " Que nuls ne sont tirez sinon ceux qui le veulent estre." 


been collected into one volume, so that all the prophets might 
justly be accounted one book. The passage which is here 
quoted is to be found in Isaiah, (liv. 13,) where, speaking of 
the restoration of the Church, he promises to her, sons taught 
by the instruction of God. Hence it may easily be inferred, 
that the Church cannot be restored in any other way than 
by God undertaking the office of a Teacher, and bringing 
believers to himself. The way of teaching, of which the 
prophet speaks, does not consist merely in the external voice, 
but likewise in the secret operation of the Holy Spirit. In 
short, this teaching of Gcd is the inward illumination of the 

And they shall be all taught by God. As to the word all, 
it must be limited to the elect, who alone are the true 
children of the Church. Now it is not difficult to see in 
what manner Christ applies this prediction to the present 
subject. Isaiah shows that then only is the Church truly 
edified, when she has her children taught by God. Christ, 
therefore, justly concludes that men have not eyes to behold 
the light of life, until God has opened them. But at the same 
time, he fastens on the general phrase, all ; because he argues 
from it, that all who are taught by God are effectually drawn, 
so as to come ; and to this relates what he immediately adds, 

Whosoever therefore hath heard my Father. The amount of 
what is said is, that all who do not believe are reprobate and 
doomed to destruction ; because all the sons of the Church 
and heirs of life are made by God to be his obedient disciples. 
Hence it follows, that there is not one of all the elect of God 
who shall not be a partaker of faith in Christ. 1 Again, as 
Christ formerly affirmed that men are not fitted for believing, 
until they have been draivn, so he now declares that the 
grace of Christ, by which they are drawn, is efficacious, so 
that they necessarily believe. 

These two clauses utterly overturn the whole power of 
free will, of which the Papists dream. For if it be only when 
the Father has draicn us that we begin to come to Christ, 
there is not in us any commencement of faith, or any prepar- 

1 " Qu'il n'y en a pas un de tous les eleus de Dieu qui ne viene a estre 
participant de la foy." 


ation for it. On the other hand, if all come whom the Father 
hath taught, He gives to them not only the choice of believing, 
but faith itself. When, therefore, we willingly yield to the 
guidance of the Spirit, this is a part, and, as it were, a seal- 
ing of grace ; because God would not draw us, if He were 
only to stretch out his hand, and leave our will in a state of 
suspense. But in strict propriety of language He is said to 
draw us, when He extends the power of his Spirit to the full 
effect of faith. They are said to hear God, who willingly 
assent to God speaking to them within, because the Holy 
Spirit reigns in their hearts. 

Cometh to me. He shows the inseparable connection that 
exists between him and the Father. For the meaning is, 
that it is impossible that any who are God's disciples shall 
not obey Christ, and that they who reject Christ refuse to 
be taught by God ; because the only wisdom that all the elect 
learn in the school of God is, to come to Christ ; for the 
Father, who sent him, cannot deny himself. 

46. Not that any man hath seen the Father, but he who is from God ; 
he hath seen the Father. 47. Verily, verily, I say to you, He who be- 
lieveth in me hath eternal life. 48. I am the bread of life. 49. Your 
fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50. This is the bread 
which hath come down from heaven, that any man may eat of it, and not 
die. 51. I am the living bread which hath come down from heaven ; if 
any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever ; and the bread which I shall 
give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. 

46. Not that any man hath seen the Father. As he has 
hitherto magnified the grace of his Father, so now he earn- 
estly directs believers to himself alone. For both must be 
joined together ; that no knowledge of Christ can be obtained, 
until the Father enlighten by his Spirit those who are by 
nature blind ; and yet that it is in vain to seek God, unless 
Christ go before ; for the majesty of God is so lofty, that the 
senses of men cannot reach him. Nay, more, all that know- 
ledge of God which men may think that they have attained 
out of Christ will be a deadly abyss. When he says that he 
alone hath known the Father, he means that it is an office 
which belongs peculiarly to himself, to manifest God to men, 
who would otherwise have been concealed. 


47. He who believeth in me. This is an explanation of the 
former statement. For we are taught by these words that 
it is when we believe in Christ that God is made known to 
us ; for then do we begin to see, as in a mirror, or as in a 
bright and lively image, God who was formerly invisible. 
Accursed then be every thing that is declared to us concern- 
ing God, if it do not lead us to Christ. What it is to believe 
in Christ I have already explained ; for we must not imagine 
a confused and empty faith, which deprives Christ of his 
power, as the Papists do, who believe in Christ just as far as 
they think fit. For the reason why we obtain life by faith 
is, that we know that all the parts of our life are contained 
in Christ. 

The inference which some draw from this passage — that to 
believe in Christ is the same thing as to eat Christ, or his Jiesh 
— is not well founded. For these two things differ from each 
other as former and latter ; and in like manner, to come to 
Christ and to drink him, for coming to him is first in order. I 
acknowledge that Christ is not eaten but by faith ; but the 
reason is, because we receive him by faith, that he may dwell 
in us, and that we may be made partakers of him, and thus 
may be one with him. To eat him, therefore, i3 an effect or 
work of faith. 

■ 48. I am the bread of life. Besides what he formerly said, 
that he is the life-giving bread, by which our souls are nour- 
ished, in order to explain it more fully, he likewise repeats 
the contrast between this bread and the ancient manna, 
together with a comparison of the men. 

49. Your fathers ate manna in the tcilderness, and are dead. 
He says that the manna was a perishing food to their fathers, 
for it did not free them from death. It follows, therefore, 
that souls do not find anywhere else than in him that food 
by which they are fed to spiritual life. Besides, we must 
keep in remembrance what I formerly stated, that what is 
here said does not relate to the manna, so far as it was a 
secret figure of Christ ; for in that respect Paul calls it spiritual 
food, (1 Cor. x. 3.) But we have said that Christ here 


accommodates his discourse to the hearers, who, caring only 
about feeding the belly, looked for nothing higher in the 
manna. Justly, therefore, does he declare that their fathers 
are dead, that is, those who, in the same manner, were devoted 
to the belly, or, in other words, who thought of nothing 
higher than this world. 1 And yet he invites them to eat, 
when he says that he has come, that any man may eat ; for 
this mode of expression has the same meaning as if he said, 
that he is ready to give himself to all, provided that they are 
only willing to believe. That not one of those who have once 
eaten Christ shall die — must be understood to mean, that the 
life which he bestows on us is never extinguished, as we stated 
under the Fifth Chapter. 

51. lam the living bread. He often repeats the same thing, 
because nothing is more necessary to be known ; and every 
one feels in himself with what difficulty we are brought to 
believe it, and how easily and quickly it passes away and is 
forgotten. 2 We all desire life, but in seeking it, we foolishly 
and improperly wander about in circuitous roads ; and when 
it is offered, the greater part disdainfully reject it. For who 
is there that does not contrive for himself life out of Christ ? 
And how few are there who are satisfied with Christ alone ! 
It is not a superfluous repetition, therefore, when Christ 
asserts so frequently that he alone is sufficient to give life. 
For he claims for himself the designation of bread, in order 
to tear from our hearts all fallacious hopes of living. Having 
formerly called himself the bread of life, he now calls himself 
the living bread, but in the same sense, namely, life-giving bread. 
— Which have come down from heaven. He frequently mentions 
his coming down from heaven, because spiritual and incorrup- 
tible life will not be found in this world, the fashion of which 
passes away and vanishes, but only in the heavenly kingdom 
of God. 

If any man eat of this bread. Whenever he uses the word 
eat, he exhorts us to faith, which alone enables us to enjoy 

1 " C'est a dire, ne pensoyent plus haut que ce monde." 

2 " II nous escoule et vient a estre mis en oubli." 


this bread, so as to derive life from it. J Nor is it without 
good reason that he does so, for there are few who deign to 
stretch out their hand to put this bread to their mouth ; and 
even when the Lord puts it into their mouth, there are few 
who relish it, but some are filled with wind, and others — like 
Tantalus — are dying of hunger through their own folly, while 
the food is close beside them. 

The bread icliich I shall give is my fiesh. As this secret 
power to bestow life, of which he has spoken, might be re- 
ferred to his Divine essence, he now comes down to the 
second step, and shows that this life is placed in his flesh, that 
it may be drawn out of it. It is, undoubtedly, a wonderful 
purpose of God that he has exhibited life to us in that flesh, 
where formerly there was nothing but the cause of death. 
And thus he provides for our weakness, when he does not 
call us above the clouds to enjoy life, but displays it on earth, 
in the same manner as if he were exalting us to the secrets 
of his kingdom. And yet, while he corrects the pride of 
our mind, he tries the humility and obedience of our faith, 
when he enjoins those w T ho would seek life to place reliance 
on his flesh, which is contemptible in its appearance. 

But an objection is brought, that the flesh of Christ cannot 
give life, because it was liable to death, and because even 
now it is not immortal in itself; and next, that it docs not 
at all belong to the nature of flesh to quicken souls. I reply, 
though this power comes from another source than from the 
flesh, still this is no reason why the designation may not ac- 
curately apply to it ; for as the eternal Word of God is the 
fountain of life, (John i. 4,) so his flesh, as a channel, conveys 
to us that life which dwells intrinsically, as we say, in his Di- 
vinity. And in this sense it is called life-giving, because it 
conveys to us that life which it borrows for us from another 
quarter. This will not be difficult to understand, if we con- 
sider what is the cause of life, namely, righteousness. And 
though righteousness flows from God alone, still we shall not 
attain the full manifestation of it any where else than in the 

1 " Laqucllc sculc fait que nous tirons vie dc ce pain." 


flesh of Christ ; for in it was accomplished the redemption of 
man, in it a sacrifice was offered to atone for sins, and an 
obedience yielded to God, to reconcile him to us ; it was also 
filled with the sanctification of the Spirit, and at length, hav- 
ing vanquished death, it was received into the heavenly glory. 
It follows, therefore, that all the parts of life have been placed 
in it, that no man may have reason to complain that he is 
deprived of life, as if it were placed in concealment, or at a 

Which I shall give for the life of the world. The word give 
is used in various senses. The first giving, of which he has 
formerly spoken, is made daily, whenever Christ offers him- 
self to us. Secondly, it denotes that singular giving which 
was done on the cross, when he offered himself as a sacrifice 
to his Father ; for then he delivered himself up to death for 
the life of men, and now he invites us to enjoy the fruit of 
his death. For it would be of no avail to us that that sacri- 
fice was once offered, if we did not now feast on that sacred 
banquet. It ought also to be observed, that Christ claims 
for himself the office of sacrificing his flesh. Hence it ap- 
pears with what wicked sacrilege the Papists pollute them- 
selves, when they take upon themselves, in the mass, what 
belonged exclusively to that one High Priest. 

52. The Jews therefore debated among themselves, saying, How can 
this man give us his flesh to eat ? 53. Jesus therefore said to them, 
Verily, verily, I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, 
and drink his blood, you have not life in you. 54. He who eateth my 
flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life ; and I will raise him up 
at the last day. 55. For my flesh is truly food, and my blood is truly 
drink. 56. He who eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in 
me, and I in him. 57. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live on 
account of my Father ; and he who eateth me, even he shall live for 
my sake. 58. This is the bread which hath come down from heaven ; 
not as your fathers ate manna, and are dead ; he who eateth this bread 
shall live for ever. 

52. The Jews therefore debated among themselves. He again 
mentions the Jews, not by way of honour, but to repi'oach 
them with their unbelief, because they do not receive the 
well known doctrine concerning eternal life, or, at least, do 
not inquire modestly into the subject, if it be still obscure 
and doubtful. For when he says that they debated., it is a sign 


of obstinacy and contempt ; and those who dispute so keenly 
do, indeed, block up against themselves the road to the know- 
ledge of the truth. And yet the blame imputed to them is not 
simply that they inquired into the manner ; for the same 
blame would fall on Abraham and the blessed Virgin, (Gen. 
xv. 2 ; Luke i. 34.) Those persons, therefore, are either led 
astray through ignorance, or are deficient in candour, who, 
without taking into account the hardihood and eagerness to 
quarrel, which alone the Evangelist condemns, direct all their 
outcry against the word how ; as if it had not been lawful for 
the Jews to inquire about the manner of eating the jiesh of 
Christ. 1 But it ought rather to be imputed to sloth than 
ascribed to the obedience of faith, if we knowingly and will- 
ingly leave unsolved those doubts and difficulties which are 
removed for us by the word of the Lord. Not only is it 
lawful, therefore, to inquire as to the manner of eating the jiesh 
of Christ, but it is of great importance for us to understand 
it, so far as it is made known by the Scriptures. Away, then, 
with that fierce and obstinate pretence of humility, " For my 
part, I am satisfied with that single word of Christ, when he 
declares that his jiesh is truly food : to all the rest I willingly 
shut my eyes." As if heretics would not have equal plausi- 
bility on their side, if they willingly were ignorant that Christ 
was conceived by the Holy Ghost, because, believing that he 
is the seed of Abraham, they make no farther inquiry. Only 
we ought to preserve such moderation about the secret works 
of God, as not to desire to know anything more than what 
he determines by his word. 

53. Verily, verily, I say to you. The just resentment 
which Christ felt, 2 when he saw his grace rejected with 
such haughty disdain, constrained him to employ this 
oath. For he does not now make use of simple doctrine, 
but likewise mingles threatenings for the purpose of striking 
terror. He denounces eternal perdition against all who re- 
fuse to seek life from his flesh ; as if he had said, " If you 
hold my flesh in contempt, rest assured that there remains 

i " De manger la chair de Christ." 

2 u Un juste despitque Christ a conceu." 


for you no other hope of life." The vengeance that awaits 
all despisers of the grace of Christ is, that with their pride 
they miserably perish ; and the reason why they must be 
urged with plainness and severity is, that they may not con- 
tinue to flatter themselves. For if we threaten with death 
those diseased persons who refuse to take medicines, what 
must we do with wicked men, when they strive, as far as 
lies in their power, to destroy life itself? 

Unless you eat the jlesh of the Son of man. When he says, 
the flesh of the Son of man, the expression is emphatic ; for he 
reproves them for their contempt, which arose from perceiv- 
ing that he resembled other men. The meaning therefore 
is : u Despise me as much as you please, on account of the 
mean and despicable appearance of my flesh, still that despic- 
able flesh contains life; and if you are destitute of it, you 
will nowhere else find any thing else to quicken you." 

The ancients fell into a gross error by supposing that little 
children were deprived of eternal life, if they did not dispense 
to them the eucharist, that is, the Lord's Supper ; ' for this 
discourse does not relate to the Lord's Supper, but to the 
uninterrupted communication of the flesh of Christ, 2 which we 
obtain apart from the use of the Lord's Supper. Nor were 
the Bohemians in the right, Avhen they adduced this passage 
to prove that all without exception ought to be admitted to 
the use of the cup. With respect to young children, the 
ordinance of Christ forbids them to partake of the Lord's 
Supper ; because they are not yet able to know or to cele- 
brate the remembrance of the death of Christ. The same 
ordinance makes the cup common to all, for it commands us 
all to drink of it, (Matth. xxvi. 27.) 

54. He who eateth my flesh. This is a repetition, but is 
not superfluous; for it confirms what was difficult to be 
believed, That souls feed on his flesh and blood, in precisely the 
same manner that the body is sustained by eating and drink- 
ing. Accordingly, as he lately testified that nothing but 
death remains for all who seek life anyw T here else than in his 

1 " C'est a dire, la Cene." 2 " De la chair de Christ." 

VOL. I. » 


flesh, so now he excites all believers x to cherish good hope, 
while he promises to them life in the same Jlesh. 

And I will raise him up at the last day. It ought to be ob- 
served, that Christ so frequently connects the resurrection with 
eternal life, because our salvation will be hidden till that day. 
No man, therefore, can perceive what Christ bestows on us, 
unless, rising above the world, he places before his eyes the 
last resurrection. From these words, it plainly appears that 
the whole of this passage is improperly explained, as applied 
to the Lord's Supper. For if it were true that all who pre- 
sent themselves at the holy table of the Lord are made par- 
takers of his flesh and blood, all will, in like manner, obtain 
life ; but we know that there are many w T ho partake of it to 
their condemnation. And indeed it would have been foolish 
and unreasonable to discourse about the Lord's Supper, be- 
fore he had instituted it. It is certain, then, that he now 
speaks of the perpetual and ordinary manner of eating the 
flesh of Christ, which is done by faith only. 2 And yet, at 
the same time, I acknowledge that there is nothing said here 
that is not figuratively represented, and actually bestowed on 
believers, in the Lord's Supper ; and Christ even intended 
that the holy Supper should be, as it were, a seal and con- 
firmation 3 of this sermon. This is also the reason why the 
Evangelist John makes no mention of the Lord's Supper ; 
and therefore Augustine follows the natural order, when, in 
explaining this chapter, he does not touch on the Lord's 
Supper till he comes to the conclusion ; and then he shows 
that this mystery is symbolically represented, whenever the 
Churches celebrate the Lord's Supper, in some places daily, 
and in other places only on the Lord's day. 

55. For my jlesh is truly food. He confirms the same state- 
ment by other words, " As the body is weakened and con- 
sumed by the want of food, so the soul, if it be not fed with 
heavenly bread, will soon perish w T ith hunger." For when he 

1 " Tous les fideles." 

2 " De la maniere perpetuelle et ordinaire de manger la chair de Christ, 
qui se fait par la foy seulement." 

3 " Comme un seau et confirmation." 


declares that his flesh is truly food, he means that souls are 
famished, if they want that food. Then only wilt thou find 
life in Christ, when thou shalt seek the nourishment of life 
in his flesh. Thus we ought to boast, with Paul, that we 
reckon nothing to be excellent but Christ crucified ; because, 
as soon as Ave have departed from the sacrifice of his death, we 
meet with nothing but death ; nor is there any other road that 
conducts us to a perception of his Divine power than through 
his death and resurrection. Embrace Christ, therefore, as 
the Servant of the Father, (Isa. xlii. 1,) that he may show 
himself to thee to be the Prince of life, fActs iii. 15.) For 
when he emptied himself , (Philip, ii. 7,) in this manner we were 
enriched with abundance of all blessings ; his humiliation and 
descent into hell raised us to heaven ; and, by enduring the 
curse of his cross, he erected the banner of our righteousness 
as a splendid memorial of his victory. 1 Consequently, they 
are false expounders of the mystery of the Lord's Supper, 2 
who draw away souls from the flesh of Christ. 

And my blood is truly drink. But why does Christ mention 
his blood separately, when it is included in the word flesh ? 
I reply, he did so in condescension to our weakness. For 
when he expressly mentions food and drink, he declares that 
the life which he bestows is complete in every respect, that 
we may not imagine to ourselves a life which is only half or 
imperfect ; as if he had said, that we shall want nothing 
that belongs to life, provided that we eat his flesh and drink 
his blood. Thus also in the Lord's Supper, which corresponds 
to this doctrine, not satisfied with the symbol of the bread, 
he adds also the cup, that, having in him a twofold pledge, we 
may learn to be satisfied with him alone ; for never will a 
man find a part of life in Christ, until he has entire and com- 
plete life in him. 

56. He who eateth my flesh. This is another confirmation ; 
for while he alone has life in himself, he shows how we may 

1 "Da dresse l'enseigne de nostre justice comme un memorial mag- 
nifique de sa victoire." 

2 " Ceux-la done ne sont pas bons et droicts expositeurs du mystere de 
la Cene." 


enjoy it, that is, by eating his flesh ; as if he had affirmed that 
there is no other way in which he can become ours, than by 
our faith being directed to his flesh. For no one will ever 
come to Christ as God, who despises him as man ; and, there- 
fore, if you wish to have any interest in Christ, you must 
take care, above all things, that you do not disdain his 

Dwelleth in me, and I in him. When he says that he dwell- 
eth in us, the meaning is the same as if he had said, that the 
only bond of union, and the way by which he becomes one 
with us, is, when our faith relies on his death. We may like- 
wise infer from it, that he is not now speaking of the outward 
symbol, which many unbelievers receive equally with be- 
lievers, and yet continue separated from Christ. It enables 
us also to refute the dream of those who say, that Judas re- 
ceived the body of Christ as well as the other apostles, when 
Christ gave the bread to all; for as it is a display of ignorance 
to limit this doctrine to the outward sign, so we ought to 
remember what I have formerly said, that the doctrine which 
is here taught is sealed in the Lord's Supper. Now, it is 
certain, in the first place, that Judas never was a member of 
Christ ; secondly, it is highly unreasonable to imagine the 

flesh of Christ to be dead and destitute of the Holy Spirit ; 
and, lastly, it is a mockery to dream of any way of eating the 

flesh of Christ without faith, since faith alone is the mouth — 
so to speak — and the stomach of the soul. 

57. As the living Father hath sent me. Hitherto Christ has 
explained the manner in which we must become partakers of 
life. He now comes to speak of the principal cause, for the 
first source of life is in the Father. But he meets an objec- 
tion, for it might be thought that he took away from God 
what belonged to him, when he made himself the cause of 
life. He makes himself, therefore, to be the Author of life, 
in such a manner, as to acknowledge that there was another 
who gave him what he administers to others. 

Let us observe, that this discourse also is accommodated to 
the capacity of those to whom Christ was speaking ; for it is 
only with respect to his flesh that he compares himself to the 


Father. For though the Father is the beginning of life, yet 
the eternal Word himself is strictly life. But the eternal 
Divinity of Christ is not the present subject ; for he exhibits 
himself such as he was manifested to the world, clothed with 
our flesh. 

/ also live on account of the Father. This does not apply to 
his Divinity simply, nor does it apply to his human nature 
simply and by itself, but it is a description of the Son of God 
manifested in the flesh. Besides, we know that it is not un- 
usual with Christ to ascribe to the Father every thing Divine 
which he had in himself. It must be observed, however, that 
he points out here three degrees of life. In the first rank is 
the living Father, who is the source, but remote and hidden. 
Next follows the Son, who is exhibited to us as an open foun- 
tain, and by whom life flows to us. The third is, the life 
which we draw from him. We now perceive what is stated 
to amount to this, that God the Father, in whom life dwells, 
is at a great distance from us, and that Christ, placed between 
us, is the second cause of life, in order that what would 
otherwise be concealed in God may proceed from him to us. 

58. This is the bread which came down from heaven. He 
returns to the comparison between the manna and his flesh, 
with which he had begun; for it was necessary that he should 
close the sermon in this manner : " There is no reason why 
you should prefer Moses to me, because he fed your fathers 
in the wilderness ; since 1 supply you with far more excellent 
food, for I bring heavenly life with me." For — -as was for- 
merly said — the bread is said to have come down from heaven, 
because it has nothing earthly or corruptible in its nature, 
but breathes the immortality of the kingdom of God. They 
who were only bent on feeding the belly, did not find such 
virtue in the manna ; for while the manna had a twofold use, 
the Jews, with whom Christ is now disputing, beheld in it 
nothing else than bodily food. But the life of the soul is not 
fading, but makes continual progress until the whole man is 


59. He spoke these things in the synagogue, while he was teaching in 
Capernaum. 60. Many of his disciples, therefore, having heard it, said, 
This is a harsh saying; 1 who can hear it? 61. But Jesus knowing in 
himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, Doth this offend 
you ? 62. What if you shall see the Son of man ascend to where he 
was before? 63. It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth 
nothing. The words which I speak to you are spirit and life. 64. But 
there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the 
beginning who they were that did not believe, and who he was that would 
betray him. 

59. He spoke these things in the synagogue. John points out 
the place, that we may know that there were many present, 
and likewise, that a sermon was delivered as on a weighty 
and important subject. But it immediately follows that out 
of so great a multitude there were scarcely to be found a 
very few who profited by it ; and — what is worse — it proved 
to be the occasion of desertion to many who professed to be 
disciples of Christ. If the Evangelist had said that only 
some of them were offended, that ought to have been ac- 
counted monstrous ; but when they rise up in crowds and con- 
spire together against him, what name shall we give to such an 
action ? Let this narrative then be deeply impressed on our 
minds, that we may never murmur against Christ when he 
speaks ; and if in the present day we perceive any thing of 
this kind in others, let not their pride disturb our faith. 

60. This is a harsh saying. On the contrary, it was in 
their hearts, and not in the saying, that the harshness lay. 
But out of the word of God the reprobate are thus accus- 
tomed to form stones to dash themselves upon, and when, 
by their hardened obstinacy, they rush against Christ, they 
complain that his saying is harsh, which ought rather to 
have softened them. For whoever shall submit with true 
humility 2 to the doctrine of Christ will find nothing in it 
harsh or disagreeable ; but to unbelievers, who oppose them- 
selves with obstinacy, it will be a hammer which breaketh the 
rocks in pieces, as the Prophet calls it, (Jer. xxiii. 29.) But 
since the same hardness is natural to us all, if we judge of 
the doctrine of Christ according to our feelings, his words 

1 " Ceste parole est dure, oh, rude;"—" this saying is hard, 

2 " En vraye humilite." 

or, harsh. 


will be just so many strange and incredible 1 statements. All 
that remains for us, therefore, is, that every one commit him- 
self to the guidance of the Spirit, that he may inscribe on 
our hearts what otherwise would never have even entered 
into our ears. 

Who can hear it? Here we see the awful wickedness of 
unbelief; for they who impiously and basely reject the doc- 
trine of salvation, not satisfied with excusing themselves, 
have the hardihood to put the Son of God in their room as 
if he were guilty, and to declare that he is unworthy of being 
heard. Thus, in the present day, Papists not only reject the 
Gospel in a daring manner, but likewise break out into horrid 
blasphemies, that it may not be thought that they have no good 
reason for opposing God. And, indeed, since they desire 
darkness, we need not wonder if Satan deceives them by 
strange monsters, where there is nothing but the open high- 
way.-' But that which they, through their rage and fury, 
cannot endure will not only be tolerable to modest and teach- 
able persons, but will support and comfort them. Yet the 
reprobate, by their obstinate slanders, will do nothing more 
than bring down on themselves more dreadful condemnation. 

61. But Jesus knowing. Christ knew, indeed, that the 
offence which the reprobate had taken up could not be re- 
moved ; for, to tell the truth, 3 the doctrine does not so much 
wound them as it exposes the putrid ulcer which they 
inwardly nourished in their hearts. But he wished by all 
methods to try if there were not one of those who were 
offended that was not yet beyond the reach of cure, and to 
stop the mouths of the rest. By putting the question, he 
means that they have no reason to be offended, 4 or, at least, 
that the ground of offence does not lie in the doctrine it- 
self. Thus we ought to repress the wickedness of those 
who, urged on by nothing but the rage of mastiff dogs, 
slander the word of God ; and thus too we ought to chastise 
the folly of those who inconsiderately attack the truth. 

1 " Estranges et incroyables." 

2 " La ou it n'y a que le beau plein chemin." 

3 u Tour dire a la veriu." 4 " De se scandalizer." 


Knowing in himself. He says that Jesus knew in himself, 
because they had not yet declared openly what gave them 
uneasiness, but secretly murmured and groaned within them- 
selves, and, therefore, he anticipates their open complaints, 
If it be objected, that the nature of those complaints was not 
difficult to understand, because in express terms they rejected 
the doctrine of Christ, I acknowledge that the words which 
John has formerly related are plain enough ; but still I say 
that, like persons who are disgusted at any thing, they whis- 
pered those words to each other in low murmurs. For if 
they had spoken to Christ, there would have been better 
ground of hope, because the way would have been opened 
up for teaching them ; but now, when they indulge in secret 
murmurings, they shut up against themselves the way to gain 
instruction. So then, when we do not immediately perceive 
the Lord's meaning, there is nothing better than to go 
straight to him, that he may solve all our difficulties. 

Doth this offend you ? Christ appears here to increase the 
offence instead of removing it ; but if any person examine 
very closely the ground of offence, there was in the following 
statement what ought to have pacified their minds. 

62. What if you shall see the Son of man ascend to where he 
was before? The mean and despicable condition of Christ 
which they saw before their eyes, while, clothed with flesh, he 
was not at all different from other men, prevented them from 
submitting to his Divine power ; but now — by withdrawing, 
as it were, the veil — he calls them to behold his heavenly 
glory, as if he had said, " Because I converse among men 
without honour, I am despised by you, and you recognise in 
me nothing that is Divine ; but ere long God will adorn me 
with splendid power, and, withdrawing me from the con- 
temptible state of mortal life, will raise me above the 
heavens." For, in the resurrection of Christ, so great was 
the power displayed by the Holy Spirit, that it plainly 
showed Christ to be the Son of God, as Paul also shows, 
(Rom. i. 4.) And when it is said, Thou art my Son, to-day 
have I begotten thee, (Ps. ii. 7,) the resurrection is brought 
forward as a proof from which that glory of Christ ought to 


be acknowledged, and his ascension to heaven was the com- 
pletion of that glory. When he says that he was formerly in 
heaven, this docs not apply strictly to his human nature, and 
yet he speaks of the Son of man ; but since the two natures 
in Christ constitute one person, it is not an unusual way 
of speaking to transfer to one nature what is peculiar to the 

63. It is the Spirit that quickeneth. By these words Christ 
shows the reason why the Jews did not profit by his doctrine 
to be, that, being spiritual and quickening, it does not find 
ears well prepared. But as this passage has been variously ex- 
pounded, it will be of importance first to ascertain the natural 
meaning of the words ; from which it will be easy to perceive 
Christ's intention. When he affirms that the flesh profiteth 
nothing, Chrysostom improperly, in my opinion, refers it to 
the Jews, who were carnal. I readily acknowledge that in 
heavenly mysteries the whole power of the human mind is 
utterly unavailing ; but the words of Christ do not bear that 
meaning, if they be not violently tortured. Equally forced 
would be that opinion, as applied to the apposite clause ; 
namely, it is the illumination of the Spirit that quickeneth. 
Nor do I approve of the views of those who say, that the flesh 
of Christ profiteth, so far as he was crucified, but that, when 
it is eaten, it is of no advantage to us ; for, on the contrary, 
we must eat it, that, having been crucified, it may profit. 

Augustine thinks that we ought to supply the word only, 
or by itself, as if it had been said, " The flesh alone, and by 
itself, profiteth not," 1 because it must be accompanied by the 
Spirit. This meaning accords well with the scope of the 
discourse, for Christ refers simply to the manner of eating. 
He does not, therefore, exclude every kind of usefulness, as 
if none could be obtained from his flesh ; but he declares 
that, if it be separated from the Spirit, it will then be useless. 
For whence has the flesh power to quicken, but because it is 
spiritual ? Accordingly, whoever confines his whole atten- 
tion to the earthly nature of the flesh, will find in it nothing 

1 " Comrae s'il estoit dit, La chair seule et par soy ne profite dc rien." 


but what is dead ; but they who shall raise their eyes to the 
power of the Spirit, which is diffused over the flesh, will learn 
from the actual effect and from the experience of faith, that 
it is not without reason that it is called quickening. 

We now understand in what manner the jlesh is truly food, 
and yet it prqfiteth not. It is food, because by it life is pro- 
cured for us, because in it God is reconciled to us, because 
in it we have all the parts of salvation accomplished. It 
profiteth not, if it be estimated by its origin and nature ; for 
the seed of Abraham, which is in itself subject to death, 
does not bestow life, but receives from the Spirit its power to 
feed us ; and, therefore, on our part also, that we may be truly 
nourished by it, we must bring the spiritual mouth of faith. 

As to the sentence breaking off in so abrupt a manner, it 
is probable that this was done because Christ saw that it 
was necessary to act in this manner towards unbelievers. 
By this clause, therefore, he suddenly closed the sermon, 
because they did not deserve that he should speak to them 
any longer. Yet he did not overlook those who are godly 
and teachable ; for they have here, in a few words, what 
may abundantly satisfy them. 

The words ivhich I speak to you. This is an allusion to the 
preceding statement, for he now employs the word Spirit in 
a different sense. But as he had spoken of the secret power 
of the Spirit, he elegantly applies this to his doctrine, because 
it is spiritual ; for the word Spirit must be explained to mean 
spiritual. Now the word is called spiritual, because it calls 
us upwards to seek Christ in his heavenly glory, through the 
guidance of the Spirit, by faith, and not by our carnal per- 
ception ; for we know that of all that was said, nothing can be 
comprehended but by faith. And it is also worthy of observation, 
that he connects life with the Spirit. He calls his word life, 
from its effect, as if he had called it quickening; but shows that 
it will not be quickening to any but those who receive it spirit- 
ually, for others will rather draw death from it. To the 
godly, this commendation bestowed on the Gospel is most 
delightful, because they are certain that it is appointed for 
their eternal salvation ; but at the same time, they are re- 
minded to labour to prove that they are genuine disciples. 


64. But there are some of you who do not believe. He again 
Imputes blame to them, because, being destitute of the Spirit, 
they wickedly corrupt and debase his doctrine, and thus turn 
it to their ruin. For otherwise they might have objected : 
" You boast, indeed, that what you speak is quickening, but 
we experience nothing of that nature." Pie therefore says, 
that by themselves it is prevented ; for unbelief, as it is always 
proud, will never understand any thing in the words of Christ, 
which it despises and disdains. Wherefore, if we wish to profit 
at all under this Teacher, let us bring minds well disposed to 
listen to him ; for if the entrance to his doctrine be not opened 
up by humility and reverence, our understandings are harder 
than stones, and will not receive any part of sound doctrine. 
And therefore, when in the present day we see so few people 
in the world profiting by the Gospel, we ought to remember 
that this arises from the depravity of men. For how many 
will you find who deny themselves, and truly submit to 
Christ ? As to his saying only that there were some who did 
not believe, though almost all of them were liable to this charge, 
his reason for doing so appears to have been that, if there 
were any who were not yet beyond the possibility of cure, 
they might not cast down their minds in despair. 

For Jesus knew from the beginning. The Evangelist added 
this, that none might think that Christ formed an opinion at 
random about his hearers. Many professed to belong to his 
flock, but a sudden apostacy exposed their hypocrisy. But 
the Evangelist says that their treachery, even while it was 
unknown to others, was well known to Christ. And this is 
stated, not so much on his account, as that Ave may learn not 
to form a judgment except on subjects which we have 
thoroughly investigated; for as to their being known to 
Christ from the beginning, this was peculiar to his Divinity. 
It is otherwise with us; for since we do not know the hearts, 
we ought to delay forming a judgment, until impiety be 
manifested by outward signs, and thus the tree be knoivn by 
its fruits, (Matth. vii. 16.) 

65. And he said, Therefore have I told you that no man can come to 
me, unless it be given to him by my Father. 66. From that time many 


of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67. Jesus 
therefore said to the twelve, Do you also wish to go away ? 68. Simon 
Peter therefore answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast 
the words of eternal life. 69. And we have believed and known that 
thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 70. Jesus answered them, 
Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71. Now he 
spoke of Judas Iscariot, son of Simon ; for it was he that would betray 
him, although he was one of the twelve. 

Q5. Therefore have I told you. He again states that faith 
is an uncommon and remarkable gift of the Spirit of God, 
that we may not be astonished that the Gospel is not received 
in every place and by all. For, being ill qualified to turn to 
our advantage the course of events, we think more meanly of 
the Gospel, because the whole world does not assent to it. 
The thought arises in our mind, How is it possible that the 
greater part of men shall deliberately reject their salvation ? 
Christ therefore assigns a reason why there are so few be- 
lievers, namely, because no man, whatever may be his acute- 
ness, 1 can arrive at faith by his own sagacity; for all are blind, 
until they are illuminated by the Spirit of God, and therefore 
they only partake of so great a blessing whom the Father 
deigns to make partakers of it. If this grace were bestowed 
on all without exception, it would have been unseasonable 
and inappropriate to have mentioned it in this passage ; for 
we must understand that it was Christ's design to show that 
not many believe the Gospel, because faith proceeds only 
from the secret revelation of the Spirit. 

Unless it be given him by my Father. He now uses the word 
give instead of the word which he formerly used, draw; by 
which he means that there is no other reason why God draics, 
than because out of free grace he loves us ; for what we 
obtain by the gift and grace of God, no man procures for 
himself by his own industry. 

66. From that time many of his disciples ivent back. The 
Evangelist now relates what trouble was the consequence of 
that sermon. It is a dreadful and monstrous thing, that so 
kind and gracious an invitation of Christ could have alien- 
ated the minds of many, and especially of those who had 

1 " Tant ai«u soil il." 


formerly professed to belong to him, and were even his 
ordinary disciples. But this example is held out to us for a 
mirror, as it were, in which we may perceive how great is 
the wickedness and ingratitude of men, who turn a plain road 
into an occasion of stumbling to them, that they may not 
come to Christ. Many would say that it would have been 
better that a sermon of this kind should never have been 
preached, which occasioned the apostacy of many. But we 
ought to entertain a widely different view ; for it Avas then 
necessary, and now is daily necessary, that what had been 
foretold concerning Christ should be perceived in his doctrine, 
namely, that he is the stone of stumbling, (Isa. viii. 14.) 

We ought, indeed, to regulate our doctrine in such a manner 
that none may be offended through our fault ; as far as pos- 
sible, we ought to retain all ; and, in short, we ought to take 
care that we do not, by talking inconsiderately or at random, 1 
disturb ignorant or weak minds. But it will never be possi- 
ble for us to exercise such caution that the doctrine of Christ 
shall not be the occasion of offence to many ; because the 
reprobate, who are devoted to destruction, suck venom from 
the most wholesome food, and gall from honey. The Son of 
God undoubtedly knew well what was useful, and yet we see 
that he cannot avoid 2 offending many of his disciples. What- 
ever then may be the dislike entertained by many persons 
for pure doctrine, still we are not at liberty to suppress it, 
Only let the teachers of the Church remember the advice 
given by Paul, that the word of God ought to be properly divided, 
(2 Tim. ii. 15 ;) and next let them advance boldly amidst all 
offences. And if it happen that many apostatize, let us not 
be disgusted at the word of God, because it is not relished 
by the reprobate ; for they who are so much shaken by the 
revolt of some that, when those persons fall away, they are 
immediately discouraged, are too delicate and tender. 

And walked no more with him. When the Evangelist adds 
these words, he means that it was not a complete apostacy, 
but only that they withdrew from familiar intercourse with 
Christ; and yet he condemns them as apostates. Hence we 

1 " Inconsiderement, ou a la volee." * " II ne pcut eviter." 


ought to learn that we cannot go back a foot breadth, with- 
out being immediately in danger of falling into treacherous 
denial of our Master. 

67. Jesus therefore said to the twelve. As the faith of the 
apostles might be greatly shaken, when they saw that they 
were so small a remnant of a great multitude, Christ directs 
his discourse to them, and shows that there is no reason why 
they should allow themselves to be hurried away by the 
lightness and unsteadiness of others. When he asks them if 
they also toish to go away, he does so in order to confirm their 
faith ; for, by exhibiting to them himself, that they may 
remain with him, he likewise exhorts them not to become the 
companions of apostates. And, indeed, if faith be founded 
on Christ, it will not depend on men, and will never waver, 
though it should see heaven and earth mingling. We ought 
also to observe this circumstance, that Christ, when deprived 
of nearly all his disciples, retains the twelve only, in like manner 
as Isaiah was formerly commanded to bind the testimony and 
seal the law among the disciples, (Isa. viii. 16.) By such ex- 
amples, every one of the believers is taught to follow God, 
even though he should have no companion. 

68. Simon Peter therefore answered him. Peter replies here 
in the name of all, as he does on other occasions; because all 
of them were of the same mind, except that in Judas there 
was no sincerity. This reply contains two clauses; for Peter 
first states the reason why he cheerfully adheres to Christ, 
along with his brethren ; namely, because they feel that his 
doctrine is wholesome and quickening ; and, secondly, he 
acknowledges that to whomsoever they might go, if they left 
Christ, there remained for them nothing but death. 

Thou hast the words of eternal life. When he says the words 
of life, by the phrase of life, he means quickening, using the 
genitive case instead of the adjective, which is a very com- 
mon mode of expression among the Hebrews. It is a re- 
markable commendation bestowed on the Gospel, that it 
administers to us eternal life, as Paul testifies, that it is the 
poiver of God for salvation to every one who believeth, (Rom. i. 


16.) True, the Law also contains life, but because it de- 
nounces against all transgressors 1 the condemnation of 
eternal death, it can do nothing but kill. Widely different 
is the manner in which life is offered to us in the Gospel, that 
is, when God reconciles us to himself through free grace, by 
not imputing our sins, (2 Cor. v. 19.) It is no ordinary asser- 
tion that Peter makes concerning Christ, when he says that 
he has the icords of eternal life ; but he ascribes this to 
Christ as belonging to him alone. Hence follows the second 
statement which I glanced at a little ago, that as soon as they 
have gone away from Christ, there remains for them every- 
where nothing but death. Certain destruction, therefore, 
awaits all who, not satisfied with that Teacher, fly to the in- 
ventions of men. 

69. And we have believed and known. The verbs are in the 
past tense, but they may be changed into the present tense, 
we believe and knotc, but it makes little difference in the mean- 
ing. In these words Peter gives a brief summary of faith. 
But the confession appears to have nothing to do with the 
matter in hand, for the question had been raised about eating 
the flesh of Christ. I reply, although the twelve did not at 
once comprehend all that Christ had taught, yet it is enough 
that, according to the capacity of their faith, they acknow- 
ledge him to be the Author of salvation, and submit them- 
selves to him in all things. The word believe is put first, be- 
cause the obedience of faith is the commencement of right 
understanding, or rather, because faith itself is truly the eye 
of the understanding. But immediately afterwards knowledge 
is added, which distinguishes faith from erroneous and false 
opinions ; for Mahometans and Jews and Papists believe, but 
they neither know nor understand any thing. Knowledge is 
connected with faith, because we are certain and fully con- 
vinced of the truth of God, not in the same manner as human 
sciences are learned, but when the Spirit seals it on our 

1 " A tous transgresseurs." 


70. Jesus answered them. Since Christ replies to all, we 
infer from it that all spake by the mouth of Peter. Besides, 
Christ now prepares and fortifies the eleven apostles against 
a new offence which was already at hand. It was a powerful 
instrument of Satan for shaking their faith, when they were 
reduced to so small a number, but the fall of Judas might 
take away all their courage; for since Christ had chosen that 
sacred number, who would ever have thought that any portion 
of the whole number could be torn away ? That admonition 
of Christ may be inteq^reted thus : " You twelve alone re- 
main out of a large company. If your faith has not been 
shaken by the unbelief of many, prepare for a new contest ; 
for this company, though small, will be still diminished by one 

Have not I chosen you twelve ? When Christ says that he 
has chosen or elected twelve, he does not refer to the eternal 
purpose of God ; for it is impossible that any one of those 
who have been predestinated to life shall fall away ; but, 
having been chosen to the apostolic office, they ought to have 
surpassed others in piety and holiness. He used the word 
chosen, therefore, to denote those who were eminent and dis- 
tinguished from the ordinary rank. 

And one of you is a devil. He unquestionably intended, by 
this name, to hold up Judas to the utmost detestation ; for 
they are mistaken who extenuate the atrocity implied in the 
name, and indeed we cannot sufficiently execrate those who 
dishonour so sacred an office. Teachers who faithfully dis- 
charge their office are called angels. They shoidd seek the law 
at his mouth, for he is THE angel of the Lord of Hosts, (Mai. 
ii. 7.) Justly, therefore, is he accounted a devil, who, after 
having been admitted to so honourable a rank, is corrupted 
through his treachery and wickedness. Another reason is, 
that God allows more power and liberty to Satan over wicked 
and ungodly ministers, than over other ordinary men ; and 
therefore, if they who were chosen to be pastors are driven 
by diabolical rage, so as to resemble wild and monstrous 
beasts, so far are we from being entitled, on that account, to 
despise the honourable rank to which they belong, that we 


ought rather to honour it the more, when the profanation of 
it is followed by so fearful a punishment. 

71. He spoke of Judas. Although Judas had a bad con- 
science, still we do not read that he was at all moved. 
Hypocrites are so stupid that they do not feel their sores, 
and in the presence of men they have such hardened effront- 
ery, that they do not scruple to prefer themselves to the very 
best of men. 


1. And after these things Jesus walked in Galilee ; for he did not 
wish to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. 2. And the 
setting up of tabernacles, a feast of the Jews, was at hand. 3. His 
brethren therefore said to him, Depart hence, and go away into Judea, 
that thy disciples also may see the works which thou dost. 4. For no 
man doth any thing in secret, and seeketh to become known ; if thou dost 
these things, show thyself to the world. 5. For even his brethren did 
not believe in him. 6. Jesus therefore said to them, My time is not yet 
conic, but your time is always ready. 7. The world cannot hate you, but 
me it hateth, because I testify of it that its works are evil. 8. Go you up 
to this feast. I go not up yet to this feast, because my time is not yet 

1. Jesus walked in Galilee. The Evangelist appears not 
to pursue a continued narrative, but to select out of what 
occurred at different times those events which were worthy 
of being related. He says that Christ sojourned for a time 
in Galilee, because he could not remain in safety anywhere 
among the Jews. If any person think it strange that Christ 
sought a place of concealment, who, by the mere act of his 
will, could break and render powerless all the efforts of his 
enemies, it is easy to reply, that he remembered the commis- 
sion which he had received from the Father, and determined 
to confine himself within the limits which belonged to him 
as man ; for, having taken upon him the form of a servant, he 
emptied himself, till the Father exalted him, (Philip, ii. 6-8.) 

If it be objected that, as he knew the time of his death, 
which had been foreordained and determined in the purpose 
vol. I. s 


of God, 1 he had no reason for avoiding it, the former solution 
applies here also ; for he conducted himself as a man who was 
liable to dangers, and, therefore, it was not proper that he 
should throw himself at random into dangerous situations. 
In encountering dangers, it is not our business to inquire 
what God has determined respecting us in his decree, but 
what he commands and enjoins on us, what our office requires 
and demands, and what is the proper method of regulating 
our life. Besides, Avhile Christ avoided dangers, he did not 
turn aside a hairsbreadth from the course of duty ; for to 
what purpose would life be maintained and defended, but that 
we may serve the Lord? We ought always to take care, 
therefore, that we do not, for the sake of life, lose the reasons 
for living. When a small and despised corner of Galilee 
grants a lodging to Christ, whom Judea cannot endure, we 
learn from it that piety and the fear of God are not always 
to be found in the chief places of the Church. 

2. Now a feast of the Jeivs teas at hand. Though I do not 
affirm it, yet it is probable that this happened during the 
second year after Christ's baptism. As to this feast, which 
the Evangelist mentions, it is not necessary at present to say 
much. For what purpose and use it was enjoined, Moses 
shows, (Lev. xxiii. 34.) It was, that by this annual cere- 
mony the Jews might call to remembrance, that their fathers 
lived forty years in tabernacles, when they had no houses, 
that they might thus celebrate the grace of God displayed 
in their deliverance. We have formerly said that there were 
two reasons why Christ came to Jerusalem during this feast. 
One was, that, being subject to the Law, in order to 
redeem us all from its bondage, he wished to omit no part 
of the observation of it ; and the other was, that, amidst a 
numerous and extraordinary assemblage of people, he had a 
better opportunity of advancing the Gospel. But now the 
Evangelist relates that Christ kept himself in retirement at 

1 " Determine au conseil de Dieu. 


3. His brethren therefore said to him. Under the word 
brethren the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, 
whatever may be the degree of affinity. He says that they 
mocked at Christ, because he shunned to be seen or known, 
and concealed himself in a mean and despised district of 
Judea. There is reason to doubt, however, if they were 
excited by ambition to desire that Christ should obtain 
celebrity. But granting this, still it is evident that they 
ridicule him, because they do not think that his conduct is 
rational and judicious ; and they even upbraid him with folly, 
because, while he wishes to be something, he wants confi- 
dence in himself, and does not venture to appear openly 
before men. When they say, that thy discijjles also may see, 
they mean not only his domestics, but all those whom he 
wished to procure out of the whole nation; for they add, 
" Thou wishest to be known by all, and yet thou concealest 

4. If thou dost these things ; that is, if thou aspirest to such 
greatness that all may applaud thee, direct towards thee the 
eyes of all. And they add, show thyself to the world, using 
the word world, as contrasted with the small number of per- 
sons among whom he was spending his time without honour. 
We might also draw from it another meaning. " If thou 
dost t/iese things, that is, since thou art endued with so great 
power as to procure reputation for thyself by miracles, do not 
throw them away ; for all that has been given to thee by God 
thou spendest here to no purpose, because there are none to 
bear thee testimony, or to hold thee in just estimation." 
Hence we perceive how great is the indolence of men in 
considering the works of God ; for the relations of Christ 
would never have spoken in this manner, if they had not — 
as it were — trampled under foot the manifest proofs of his 
Divine power, which they ought to have beheld with the 
greatest admiration and reverence. What is here told us 
concerning Christ happens in daily experience, that the 
children of God suffer greater annoyance from their near 
relations than from strangers; for they are instruments of 
Satan which tempt, sometimes to ambition, and sometimes 


to avarice, those who desire to serve God purely and faith- 
fully. But such Satans receive a vigorous repulse from 
Christ, who thus instructs us by his example, that we ought 
not to yield to the foolish wishes of brethren or relations. 1 

5. For even his brethren did not believe in him. Hence we 
infer how small is the value of carnal relationship ; for the 
Holy Spirit stamps with a perpetual mark of infamy the 
relations of Christ, because, though convinced by the testi- 
monies of so many works, they did not even then believe. 
Therefore, whosoever wishes to be thought to be in Christ, as Paul 
says, let him be a new creature, (2 Cor. v. 17 ; Gal. vi. 15;) 
for they who dedicate themselves wholly to God obtain the 
place of father, and mother, and brethren to Christ, and all 
others he utterly disavows, (Matth. xii. 50.) So much the 
more ridiculous is the superstition of Papists, who, disregard- 
ing everything else in the Virgin Mary, extol her only on the 
ground of relationship, bestowing on her the title of the 
Mother of Christ, 2 as if Christ himself had not reproved the 
woman who exclaimed from the midst of the crowd, Blessed 
is the womb that bore thee, and the breasts that suckled thee ; 
for Christ replied, Nay, rather, blessed are they who hear the 
word of God, (Luke xi. 27, 28.) 

6. My time is not yet come. There are some who errone- 
ously interpret this as referring to the time of his death, for 
it denotes the time of his setting out on the journey to go to 
the feast. 3 He assures them that, in this respect, he differs 
from his relations. They may freely and without danger 
appear, at all hours, before the world, because the world is 
friendly and favourable to them ; but he is in dread of his 
person, and justly, because the Avorld is his mortal enemy. 
By these words he means that they do wrong in giving ad- 
vice on a matter which they do not understand. 

7. The icorld cannot hate you. When he says that the 
world cannot hate them, he reproves them for being altogether 

1 " De nos parens." 2 " Le titre de Mere de Christ." 

3 "De se mettre en chemin pour aller a la feste." 


carnal ; for peace with the icorld can only be purchased by a 
wicked consent to vices and to every kind of wickedness. 

But me it hatcth, because I testify. The world here denotes 
men who are not born again, who retain their natural disposi- 
tion ; and accordingly he declares that all who have not yet 
been regenerated by the Spirit are Christ's adversaries. 
And why ? Because he condemns their ivorks. And if we 
acquiesce in the decision of Christ, we are under the neces- 
sity of acknoAvledging that the whole nature of man is so 
sinful and wicked, that nothing right, or sincere, or good, 
can proceed from it. This is the only reason why any of us 
is pleased with himself, so long as he is in his natural state. 

Because I testify of it, that its ivorks are evil. When Christ 
says that the icorld hateth him on this account, he means that 
the Gospel cannot be faithfully preached without summoning 
the whole world, as guilty, to the judgment-seat of God, that 
flesh and blood may thus be crushed and reduced to nothing, 
according to that saying, When the Spirit shall come, he will 
reprove the world of sin, (John xvi. 8.) We learn from it 
also, that so great is the pride natural to men, that they 
flatter and applaud themselves in their vices ; for they would 
not kindle into rage, when they are reproved, were it not 
that they are blinded by excessive love of themselves, and 
on that account flatter themselves in their sins. Even among 
the vices of men, the chief and most dangerous is pride and 
arrogance. The Holy Spirit alone softens us, so as to endure 
reproofs patiently, and thus to offer ourselves willingly to be 
slain by the sword of the Church. 

9. And having said these things, he remained in Galilee. 10. And 
when his brethren had gone up, then he also went up to the feast, not 
openly, but, as it were, in secret. 11. The Jews therefore sought him 
at the feast, aud said, Where is he ? 12. And there was much murmur- 
ing concerning him among the crowds ; for some said, He is a good man, 
and others said, No, but he seduceth the multitude. 13. Yet no man 
spoke openly about him for fear of the Jews. 

9. He remained in Galilee. The Evangelist here places 
before our eyes the cousins of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 who, 

1 " Les cousins de nostre Seifrneur Jesus Christ." 


in compliance with ordinary customs, pretend to worship 
God, but yet are on friendly terms with unbelievers, and 
therefore walk without any alarm. On the other hand, he 
places before our eyes Christ himself, who, hated by the world, 
comes secretly into the city, till the necessity arising out of 
his office compels him to show himself openly. But if there 
be nothing more wretched than to be separated from Christ, 
accursed be that peace which costs so high a price as to leave 
and abandon the Son of God. 1 

11. The Jews therefore sought him. Here we ought to con- 
sider what was the condition of the Church. For the Jews, at 
that time, gaped for the promised redemption like hungry 
men ; yet, when Christ appears to them, they remain in sus- 
pense. Hence arose that murmuring and that variety of 
opinions. That they whisper secretly is an indication of the 
tyranny which the priests and scribes exercised over them. 
It is a shocking exhibition, indeed, that this Church, which 
was at that time the only Church on earth, is here repre- 
sented to us as a confused and shapeless chaos. 2 They who 
rule, instead of pastors, hold the people oppressed by fear 
and terror, and throughout the whole body there is shameful 
desolation and lamentable disorder. By the Jeivs he means 
the common people, who, having been accustomed for two 
years to hear Christ, inquire about him, because he does not 
appear according to his custom. For when they say, Where 
is he ? they describe a man whom they knew, and yet that 
word shows that they had not yet been earnestly moved, and 
that they always remained in doubt and suspense. 

12. And there was much murmuring. He means that, 
wherever men were collected in crowds, as usually happens 
in large assemblies, they held secret conversations about 
Christ. The diversity of opinion, which is here related, 
proves that it is not a new evil, that men should differ in their 

1 " De quitter et rencmcer le Fils de Dieu." 

2 " Corume un abysnie de confusion et disordre;" — " as a gulf of con- 
fusion and disorder." 


opinions about Christ, even in the very bosom of the Church. 
And as we do not hesitate to receive Christ, who was formerly 
condemned by the greater part of his own nation, so we ought 
to be armed with the same kind of shield, that the dissensions 
which we see daily may not disturb us. Again, we may per- 
ceive how great is the rashness of men in the things of God. 
In a matter of no importance, they would not have taken so 
great liberty, but when the question relates to the Son of 
God and to his most holy doctrine, they immediately hasten 
to give judgment respecting it. So much the greater mode- 
ration ought Ave to maintain, that Ave may not thoughtlessly 
condemn our life with the eternal truth of God. And if the 
Avorld holds us for impostors, let us remember that these are 
the marks and brands of Christ, provided that we show, at 
the same time, that Ave are faithful. This passage shows 
likewise that in a great multitude, even when the Avhole body 
is in a state of confusion, there are always some Avho think 
aright ; but those few persons, Avhose minds are well regulated, 
are swallowed up by the multitude of those whose under- 
standings are beAvildered. 

13. Yet no man spoke openly of him for fear of the Jews. By 
the Jews he here means the rulers, who had the government 
in their hands. They burned Avith such hatred against Christ, 
that they did not permit a Avord to be uttered on either side. 
Not that they were displeased at any reproaches which were 
heaped upon him, but because they could discover no better 
expedient than that his name should be buried in oblivion. 
Thus the enemies of the truth, after having found that they 
gain nothing by their cruelty, desire nothing more than to 
suppress the remembrance of him, and this object alone they 
strive to attain. That all were silent, being subdued by fear, 
was a proof of gross tyranny, as I have already said ; for as 
unbridled licentiousness has no place in a well-regulated 
Church, so Avhen all freedom is held oppressed by fear, it is 
a most wretched condition. But the power of our Lord 
Jesus Christ shone forth with greater and more wonderful 
brightness, when — causing himself to be heard amidst armed 
foes, and amidst their furious resentment, and under so for- 


midable a government — he openly maintained and asserted 
the truth of God. 

14. And about the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple, 
and taught. 15. And the Jews wondered, saying, How doth this man 
know letters, since he did not learn tbem? 16. Jesus answered them, 
and said, My doctrine is not mine, but that of him who sent me. 17. If 
any man wish to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, if it be of God, 
or if I speak from myself. 18. He who speaketh from himself seeketh 
his own glory ; but he who seeketh the glory of him who sent him is 
true, and there is no unrighteousness in him. 19. Did not Moses give 
you the law, and not one of you keepeth the law ? Why do you seek 
to kill me ? 

14. Jesus went up into the temple. We now see that Christ 
was not so much afraid as to desist from the execution of his 
office ; for the cause of his delay was, that he might preach 
to a very large assembly. We may sometimes, therefore, 
expose ourselves to dangers, but we ought never to disregard 
or omit a single opportunity of doing good. As to his teach- 
ing in the temple, he does so according to the ancient ordinance 
and custom ; for while God commanded so many ceremonies, 
he did not choose that his people should be occupied with 
cold and useless spectacles. That their usefulness might be 
known, it was necessary that they should be accompanied 
by doctrine ; and in this manner, external rites are lively 
images of spiritual things, when they take their shape from 
the word of God. But almost all the priests being at that 
time dumb, and the pure doctrine being corrupted by the 
leaven and false inventions of the scribes, Christ undertook 
the office of a teacher ; and justly, because he was the great 
High Priest, as he affirms shortly afterwards, that he attempts 
nothing but by the command of the Father. 

15. And the Jetvs wondered. Those who think that Christ 
was received in such a manner as to be esteemed and honoured 
are mistaken ; for the iconder or astonishment of the Jews 
is of such a nature, that they seek occasion from it to despise 
him. For such is the ingratitude of men that, in judging of 
the works of God, they always seek deliberately an occasion 
of falling into error. If God acts by the usual means and in 
the ordinary way, those means which are visible to the eyes 


are — as it were — veils which hinder us from perceiving the 
Divine hand ; and therefore we discern nothing in them but 
what is human. But if an unwonted power of God shines 
above the order of nature and the means generally known, 
we are stunned ; and what ought to have deeply affected all 
our senses passes away as a dream. For such is our pride, 
that avc take no interest in any thing of which we do not 
know the reason. 

Ho w doth this man know letters ? It was an astonishing 
proof of the power and grace of God, that Christ, who had 
not been taught by any master, was yet eminently distin- 
guished by his knowledge of the Scriptures; and that he, 
who had never been a scholar, should be a most excellent 
teacher and instructor. But for this very reason the Jews 
despise the grace of God, because it exceeds their capacity. 
Admonished by their example, therefore, let us learn to exer- 
cise deeper reverence for God than we are wont to do in the 
consideration of his works. 

16. My doctrine is not mine. Christ shows that this cir- 
cumstance, which was an offence to the Jews, was rather a 
ladder by which they ought to have risen higher to perceive 
the glory of God ; as if he had said, " When you see a 
teacher not trained in the school of men, know that I have 
been taught by God." For the reason why the Heavenly 
Father determined that his Son should go out of a mechanic's 
workshop, rather than from the schools of the scribes, was, 
that the origin of the Gospel might be'more manifest, that 
none might think that it had been fabricated on the earth, 
or imagine that any human being was the author of it. Thus 
also Christ chose ignorant and uneducated men to be his 
apostles, and permitted them to remain three years in gross 
ignorance, that, having instructed them in a single instant, 
he might bring them forward as new men, and even as angels 
who had just come down from heaven. 

But that of 'him whosentme. Meanwhile, Christ shows whence 
we ought to derive the authority of spiritual doctrine, from God 
alone. And when he asserts that the doctrine of his Father is not 
his, he looks to the capacity of the hearers, who had no higher 


opinion of him than that he was a man. By way of conces- 
sion, therefore, he allows himself to be reckoned different 
from his Father, but so as to bring forward nothing but what 
the Father had enjoined. The amount of what is stated is, 
that what he teaches in the name of his Father is not a doc- 
trine of men, and did not proceed from men, so as to be cap- 
able of being despised with impunity. We see by what 
method he procures authority for his doctrine. It is by 
referring it to God as its Author. We see also on what 
ground, and for what reason, he demands that he shall be 
heard. It is, because the Father sent him to teach. Both 
of these things ought to be possessed by every man who takes 
upon himself the office of a teacher, and wishes that he should 
be believed. 

17. If any man wish to do his will. He anticipates the 
objections that might be made. For since he had many 
adversaries in that place, some one might readily have mur- 
mured against him in this manner : " Why dost thou boast 
to us of the name of God ? For we do not know that thou 
hast proceeded from him. Why, then, dost thou press upon 
us that maxim, which we do not admit to thee, that thou 
teachest nothing but by the command of God?" Christ, 
therefore, replies that sound judgment flows from fear 
and reverence for God ; so that, if their minds be well 
disposed to the fear of God, they will easily perceive if what 
he preaches be true or not. He likewise administers to them, 
by it, an indirect reproof ; for how comes it that they cannot 
distinguish between falsehood and truth, 1 but because they 
want the principal requisite to sound understanding, namely, 
piety, and the earnest desire to obey God? 

This statement is highly worthy of observation. Satan 
continually plots against us, and spreads his nets in every 
direction, that he may take us unawares by his delusions. 
Here Christ most excellently forewarns us to beware of ex- 
posing ourselves to any of his impostures, assuring us that if 
we are prepared to obey God, he will never fail to illuminate 

1 " E ntre la faussete et la verite." 


us by the light of his Spirit, so that we shall be able to dis- 
tinguish between truth and falsehood. Nothing else, there- 
fore, hinders us from judging aright, but that we are unruly 
and headstrong ; and every time that Satan deceives us, we 
are justly punished for our hypocrisy. In like manner Moses 
gives warning that, when false prophets arise, we are tried and 
proved by God ; for they whose hearts are right will never be 
deceived, (Deut. xiii. 3.) Hence it is evident how wickedly 
and foolishly many persons in the present day, dreading the 
danger of falling into error, by that very dread shut the door 
against all desire to learn ; as if our Saviour had not good 
ground for saying, Knock, and it shall be opened to you, (Matth. 
vii. 7.) 

On the contrary, if we be entirely devoted to obedience to 
God, let us not doubt that He will give us the spirit of discern- 
ment, to be our continual director and guide. If others choose 
to waver, they will ultimately find how flimsy are the pre- 
tences for their ignorance. And, indeed, we see that all who 
now hesitate, and prefer to cherish their doubt rather than, 
by reading or hearing, to inquire earnestly where the truth 
of God is, have the hardihood to set God at defiance by 
general principles. One man will say that he prays for the 
dead, because, distrusting his own judgment, he cannot ven- 
ture to condemn the false doctrines invented by wicked men 
about purgatory ; and yet he will freely allow himself to com- 
mit fornication. Another will say that he has not so much 
acuteness as to be able to distinguish between the pure doc- 
trine of Christ and the spurious contrivances of men, but yet 
he will have acuteness enough to steal or commit perjury. In 
short, all those doubters, who cover themselves with a veil of 
doubt in all those matters which are at present the subject of 
controversy, display a manifest contempt of God on subjects 
that are not at all obscure. 

We need not wonder, therefore, that the doctrine of the 
Gospel is received by very few persons in the present day, 
since there is so little of the fear of God in the world. Besides, 
these words of Christ contain a definition of true religion ; 
that is, when we are prepared heartily to follow the will of 


God, which no man can do, unless he has renounced his own 

Or if I speak from myself We ought to observe in what 
manner Christ wishes that a judgment should be formed 
about any doctrine whatever. He wishes that what is from 
God should be received without controversy, but freely 
allows us to reject whatever is from man ; for this is the only 
distinction that he lays down, by which we ought to distin- 
guish between doctrines. 

18. He who speakethfrom himself Hitherto he has showed 
that there is no other reason why men are blind, but because 
they are not governed by the fear of God. He now puts another 
mark on the doctrine itself, by which it may be known whether 
it is of God or of man. For every thing that displays the 
glory of God is holy and divine ; but every thing that con- 
tributes to the ambition of men, and, by exalting them, 
obscures the glory of God, not only has no claim to be 
believed, but ought to be vehemently rejected. He who 
shall make the glory of God the object at which he aims will 
never go wrong ; he who shall try and prove by this touch- 
stone what is brought forward in the name of God will never 
be deceived by the semblance of right. We are also re- 
minded by it that no man can faithfully discharge the office 
of teacher in the Church, unless he be void of ambition, and 
resolve to make it his sole object to promote, to the utmost 
of his power, the glory of God. When he says that there is 
no unrighteousness in him, he means that there is nothing 
wicked or hypocritical, but that he does what becomes an 
upright and sincere minister of God. 

19. Did not Moses give you the Late? The Evangelist does 
not give a full and connected narrative of the sermon delivered 
by Christ, but only a brief selection of the principal topics, 
which contain the substance of what was spoken. The 
scribes mortally hated him, 1 and the priests had been kin- 
dled into rage against him, because he had cured a paralytic ; 

1 " Lcs scribes le haissoyent mortellement." 


and they professed that this arose from their zeal for the 
Law. To confute their hypocrisy, he reasons, not from the 
subject, but from the person. All of them having freely 
indulged in their vices, as if they had never known any law, 
he infers from it that they are not moved by any love or zeal 
for the Law. True, this defence would not have been suffi- 
cient to prove the point. Granting that — under a false pretence 
— they concealed their wicked and unjust hatred, still it docs 
not follow that Christ did right, if he committed any thing 
contrary to the injunction of the Law; for we must not 
attempt to extenuate our own blame by the sins of others. 

But Christ connects here two clauses. In the former, he 
addresses the consciences of his enemies, and, since they 
proudly boasted of being defenders of the Law, lie tears from 
them this mask ; for he brings against them this reproach, 
that they allow themselves to violate the Law as often as 
they please, and, therefore, that they care nothing about the 
Law. Next, he comes to the question itself, as we shall 
afterwards see ; so that the defence is satisfactory and com- 
plete in all its parts. Consequently, the amount of this 
clause is, that no zeal for the Law exists in its despisers. 
Hence Christ infers that something else has excited the 
Jews to so great rage, when they seek to put him to death. 
In this manner we ought to drag the wicked from their con- 
cealments, whenever they fight against God and sound doc- 
trine, and pretend to do so from pious motives. 

Those who, in the present day, are the fiercest enemies of 
the Gospel and the most strenuous defenders of Popery, have 
nothing more plausible to urge in their behalf than that they 
are excited by ardour of zeal. But if their life be narrowly 
examined, they are all filled with base crimes, and openly 
mock at God. Who knows not that the Pope's court is 
filled with Epicureans? 1 And as to Bishops and Abbots, 
have they as much modesty as to conceal their baseness, 
that some appearance of religion may be observed in them ? 
Again, as to monks and other brawlers, are they not aban- 
doned to all wickedness, to uncleanness, covetousness, and 

1 " Que la cour du Pape est remplie d'Epicuricns." 


every kind of shocking crimes, so that their life cries aloud 
that they have altogether forgotten God ? And now that 
they are not ashamed to boast of their zeal for God and 
the Church, ought we not to repress them by this reply of 

20. The multitude answered, and said, Thou hast a devil ; who seeketh 
to kill thee? 21. Jesus answered, and said to them, I have done one 
work, and you all wonder. 22. Therefore Moses gave you circumcision, 
not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers, and on the Sabbath you cir- 
cumcise a man. 23. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, that 
the law of Moses may not be broken, are you offended at me, because I 
have completely cured a man on the Sabbath ? 24. Judge not according 
to the appearance, but judge right judgment. 

20. Thou hast a devil. The meaning is, " Thou art mad ;" 
for it was a customary phrase among the Jews, who had been 
trained to the doctrine that, when men are excited to rage, 
or when they have lost sense and reason, they are tormented 
by the devil. And, indeed, as gentle and moderate chastise- 
ments are God's fatherly rods, so when He treats us with 
greater harshness and severity, He appears not to strike us 
with his own hand, but rather to employ the devil as the 
executioner and minister of his wrath. Again, the multitude 
reproach Christ with simplicity ; for the common people were 
not acquainted with the intentions of the priests. Those 
foolish men, therefore, ascribe it to madness, when Christ 
complains that they are endeavouring to put him to death. 
We learn from it that we ought to be exceedingly cautious 
not to form an opinion about subjects which we do not under- 
stand ; but, if it ever happens that we are rashly condemned 
by ignorant men, mildly to digest such an affront. 

21. I have done one work. Now, leaving their persons, he 
begins to speak of the fact; for he proves that the miracle 
which he performed is not inconsistent with the Law of God. 
When lie says that he has done one work, the meaning is, that 
it is only of a single crime that he is held guilty, or that it is 
only for a single work that he is blamed, which is, that he cured 
a man on the day of Rest j 1 but that they, on every day of 

1 " Au jour de Repos." 


Rest, do many works of the same, or a similar description, 
and do not reckon them criminal ; for not a day of Rest passed 
on which there were not many infants circumcised in Judea. 
By this example he defends his action, although he does not 
merely argue from what is similar, but draws a comparison 
between the greater and the less. There was this similarity 
between circumcision and the cure of the paralytic, that both 
were works of God ; but Christ maintains that the latter is 
more excellent, because the benefit of it extends to the whole 
man. Now if he had merely cured the man of bodily disease, 
the comparison would not have been applicable ; for circum- 
cision would have greater excellence as to the cure of the 
soul. Christ, therefore, connects the spiritual advantage of 
the miracle with the outward benefit granted to the body ; 
and on this account he justly prefers to circumcision the entire 
cure of a man. 

There might also be another reason for the comparison, 
namely, that the sacraments are not always attended by 
power and efficacy, while Christ wrought efficaciously in 
curing the paralytic. But I prefer the former exposition, that 
the Jews maliciously and slanderously blame a icork, in which 
the grace of God shines more illustriously than in circumci- 
sion, on which they bestow so much honour that they think 
the Sabbath is not violated by it. And you all tvonder. The 
tvonder, of which he speaks, means that what Christ had done 
caused this murmur, because they thought that he had ven- 
tured to do more than was lawful. 

22. Therefore Moses gave you circumcision. The particle 
therefore appears to be unsuitable ; and, accordingly, some 
take hia roCro (on this account, or therefore) in the sense of 
ha. to, (because ;) but the Greek syntax is unfavourable to 
their opinion. 1 I explain it simply as meaning, that circum- 

1 The difficulty is obviated by reading the words ltd rovro, (with Scholz, 
Bloomtield, and others,) as the conclusion of the 21st, and not as the 
commencement of the 22d verse ; k*1 tt^vto; 8xvftd£irt lid tovto, and 
you all tvonder at it, or, on this account. Our Author, with his usual saga- 
city, has, in this instance, also anticipated the results of modern criticism ; 
for his French version, which contains his latest views, runs thus : " J'ay 


cision was enjoined in such a manner that the practice of that 
symbolical rite was necessary even on the Sabbath-day. There- 
fore, says he ; that is, it has in this manner been sufficiently 
demonstrated to them, that the worship of the Sabbath is not 
violated by the works of God. And although Christ accommo- 
dates the instance of circumcision to the present subject, yet 
he immediately makes use of a correction, when he says, that 
Moses was not the first minister of circumcision. But it was 
enough for his purpose, that Moses, who so rigidly demanded 
the keeping of the Sabbath, commanded that infants should 
be circumcised on the eighth day, even though it should fall 
on the day of Rest} 

24. Judge not according to the appearance. Having con- 
cluded his defence, he likewise administers a reproof on this 
ground, that they are carried away by wicked dispositions, 
and do not form a judgment according to the fact and the 
matter in hand. Circumcision was properly held by them in 
reverence ; and when it was performed on the Sabbath-day, 
they knew that the Law was not violated by it, because the 
works of God agree well with each other. Why do they not 
arrive at the same conclusion as to the work of Christ, but 
because their minds are preoccupied by a prejudice which 
they have formed against his person ? Judgment, therefore, 
will never be right, unless it be regulated by the truth of the 
fact ; for as soon as persons appear in public, they turn their 
eyes and senses on them, so that the truth immediately 
vanishes. While this admonition ought to be observed in all 
causes and affairs, it is peculiarly necessary when the question 
relates to the heavenly doctrine ; for there is nothing to 
which we are more prone than to dislike that doctrine on 
account of the hatred or contempt of men. 

fait une oeuvre, et vous en estes tous emerveillez, ou, el vous estes esmer- 
veillez de cela. Moise vous a donne la Circoncision." — " I have done one 
work, and you are all astonished at it, or, and you are all astonished at that. 
Moses gave you Circumcision." It is remarkable that, while a modern 
French version copies Calvin's rendering very closely, et vous en etes tous 
etonnes, (and you are all astonished at it,) the translator has overlooked the 
force of Itoc tovto, for en (at it) is marked by him in Italics, as a supple- 
ment. — Ed. 

1 " Au jour de Repos." 


25. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem therefore said, Ts not this he 
whom they ^eek to kill? 26. And, lo, lie speaketh boldly, and they gay 
nothing to him. Do the rulers actually know tliat this is truly the Christ '/ 
"27. But we know whence this man is; but when Christ shall come, no 
man will know whence he is. 28. Jesus therefore exclaimed in the temple, 
teaching and Baying, You both know me, and you know whence I am ; 
and I did not come of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom you know 
not. 29. But I know him, for 1 am from him, and he hath sent me. 
30. Therefore they sought to seize him ; but no man laid hands on him, 
because his hour was not yet come. 

25. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem ; that is, those to 
whom the rulers had communicated their plots, and who 
knew how much Christ Avas hated ; for the people at large — 
as we saw lately — looked upon this as a dream, or as mad- 
ness. Those persons, therefore, who knew with what in- 
veterate rage the rulers of their nation burned against Christ, 
have some reason for wondering that, while Christ in the 
temple not only converses openly but preaches freely, the 
rulers sat/ nothing to him. But they err in this respect, that 
in a miracle altogether Divine they do not take into account 
the providence of God. Thus carnal men, whenever they 
behold any unusual work of God, do indeed wonder, but no 
consideration of the power of God ever enters into their 
mind. But it is our duty to examine more wisely the works 
of God ; and especially when wicked men, with all their 
contrivances, do not hinder the progress of the Gospel so 
much as they would desire, we ought to be fully persuaded that 
their efforts have been rendered fruitless, because God, by 
interposing his word, has defeated them. 

27. But we know whence this man is. Here we see not only 
how great is the blindness of men, when they ought to judge 
about the things of God, but this vice is almost natural to 
them, to be ingenious in contriving what may hinder them 
from arriving at the knowledge of the truth. It is frequently, 
indeed, from the craft of Satan that offences arise, which 
cause many to turn away from Christ ; but though the road 
were plain and smooth, every man would contrive an offence 
for himself. So long as the rulers were opposed to Christ, 
their unbelief would of itself have kept back this multitude ; 
but when that obstacle has been removed, they contrive a new 

VOL. I. T 


reason for themselves, that they may not come to the faith. 
And even though it were proper that they should be influ- 
enced by the example of their rulers, they are so far from 
following what is right, that they willingly stumble at the 
first step. Thus it frequently happens, that men who had 
begun well fall away quickly, unless the Lord conduct them 
to the very end of their career. 

But when Christ shall come. The argument by which they 
obstruct their own progress is this : " The Prophets have 
testified that the origin of Christ will be unknown. Now 
ice knoic ivhence this man is, and therefore we cannot reckon 
him to be the Christ." Hence we are reminded how pernicious 
it is to mangle the Scriptures, and even Christ himself, so as 
not to admit more than the half of him. God promised that 
the Redeemer would be of the seed of David ; but he fre- 
quently claims this office as peculiar to himself; therefore, 
he must have been God manifested in the flesh, that he 
might be the Redeemer of his Church. Thus Micah points 
out the place where Christ would be born. Out of thee, 
Bethlehem, he says, a Prince shall come, to govern my people. 
But, immediately afterwards, he speaks of another going forth 
which is far loftier, and then he says that it is hidden and 
secret, (Micah v. 2.) Yet those wretched men, when they 
perceived in Christ nothing but what is liable to contempt, 
draw the absurd conclusion, that he is not the person who 
had been promised. On the mean condition of Christ in 
the flesh let us therefore learn to look in such a manner, 
that this state of humiliation, which is despised by wicked 
men, may raise us to his heavenly glory. Thus Bethlehem, 
where the man was to be born, will be to us a door by which 
we may enter into the presence of the eternal God. 

28. Jesus therefore exclaimed in the temple. He bitterly re- 
proaches them for their rashness, because they arrogantly 
flattered themselves in a false opinion, and in this manner 
excluded themselves from a knowledge of the truth ; as if he 
had said, " You know all things, and yet you know nothing." 
And, indeed, there is not a more destructive plague than 
when men are so intoxicated by the scanty portion of know- 


ledge which they possess, that they boldly reject every thing 
that is contrary to their opinion. 

You both know me, and you know whence I am. This is 
ironical language. With the false opinion which they had 
formed concerning him, he contrasts what is true ; as if he 
had said, " While you have your eyes fixed on the earth, you 
think that every part of me is before your eyes ; and there- 
fore you despise me as mean and unknown. But God will 
testify that I have come from heaven ; and though I may be 
rejected by you, God will acknowledge that I am truly his 
own Son." 

But he who hath sent me is true. He calls God true in the same 
sense that Paul calls him faithful. If toe are unbelievers, says he, 
he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself, (2 Tim. ii. 13.) 
For his object is to prove, that the credit due to the Gospel is 
not in the smallest degree diminished by the utmost exertions 
of the world to overthrow it ; that though wicked men may 
attempt to take from Christ what belonged to him, still he 
remains unimpaired, because the truth of God is firm and is 
always like itself. Christ sees that he is despised ; but so 
far is he from yielding, that, on the contrary, he boldly repels 
the furious arrogance of those who hold him in no estimation. 
With such unshaken and heroic fortitude all believers ought 
to be endued ; nay, more, our faith will never be solid or 
lasting, unless it treat with contempt the presumption of 
wicked men, when they rise up against Christ. Above all, 
godly teachers, relying on this support, ought to perse- 
vere in maintaining sound doctrine, even though it should 
be opposed by the whole world. Thus Jeremiah appeals to 
God as his defender and guardian, because he is condemned 
as an impostor : Thou hast deceived me, O Lord, says he, and 
I was deceived, (Jer. xx. 7.) Thus Isaiah, overwhelmed on 
all sides by calumnies and reproaches, flies to this refuge, that 
God will approve his cause, (Isa. 1. 8.) Thus Paul, oppressed 
by unjust judgments, appeals against all to the day of the 
Lord, (1 Cor. iv. 5,) reckoning it enough to have God alone 
to place against the whole world, however it may rage and 

Whom you knoiv not. lie means that it is not wonderful 


that he is not knoum by the Jews, because they do not know 
God; for the beginning of wisdom is, to behold God. 

29. But I know him. When he says that he knoweth God, 
he means that it is not without good grounds that he has 
risen to so great confidence ; and by his example he warns 
us not to assume lightly the name of God, so as to vaunt of 
Him as the patron and defender of our cause. For many 
are too presumptuous in boasting of the authority of God ; 
and, indeed, it is impossible to imagine greater readiness and 
boldness in rejecting the opinions of all men, than is to be 
found among fanatics who give out their own inventions as 
the oracles of God. But we are taught by these words of 
our Lord Jesus Christ that we ought especially to beware 
of proud and foolish confidence ; and that, when we have 
fully ascertained the truth of God, we ought boldly to resist 
men. And he who is fully aware that God is on his side has 
no reason to dread the charge of being insolent, in trampling 
under foot all the haughtiness of the world. 

Because I am from him, and he hath sent me. Some distin- 
guish these two clauses in this manner. They refer the former 
clause — / am from him — to the Divine essence of Christ ; 
and the latter clause — he hath sent me — to the office enjoined 
on him by the Father, for the sake of executing which he 
took upon him the flesh and human nature. Though I do 
not venture to reject this view, still I do not know if Christ 
intended to speak so abstrusely. I readily acknowledge that 
Christ's heavenly descent may be inferred from it, but it 
would not be a sufficiently strong proof of his eternal 
Divinity against the Arians. 

30. Therefore they sought to seize him. They had no want 
of will to do him mischief; they even made the attempt, and 
they had strength to do it. Why, then, amidst so much 
ardour, are they benumbed, as if they had their hands and 
feet bound ? The Evangelist replies, because Christ's hour 
tvas not yet come ; by which he means that, against all their 
violence and furious attacks, Christ was guarded by the pro- 
tection of God. And at the same time he meets the offence 


of the cross ; for we have no reason to be alarmed when we 
learn that Christ was dragged to death, not through the 
caprice of men, but because he was destined for such a sacri- 
fice by the decree of the Father. And hence we ought to 
infer a general doctrine ; for though we live from day to day, 
still the time of every man's death has been fixed by God. 
It is difficult to believe that, while we are subject to so many 
accidents, exposed to so many open and concealed attacks 
both from men and beasts, and liable to so many diseases, we 
are safe from all risk until God is pleased to call us away. 
But we ought to struggle against our oavii distrust ; and we 
ought to attend first to the doctrine itself which is here 
taught, and next, to the object at which it aims, and the 
exhortation which is drawn from it, namely, that each of 
us, casting all his cares on God, (Psal. lv. 22 ; 1 Pet. v. 7,) 
should follow his own calling, and not be led away from the 
performance of his duty by any fears. Yet let no man go 
beyond his own bounds ; for confidence in the providence of 
God must not go farther than God himself commands. 

31. And many of the multitude believed in him, and said, AVhen Christ 
shall come, will he do more miracles than this man doth ? 32. The 
Pharisees heard the multitude muttering these things concerning him ; 
and the Pharisees and priests sent officers to seize him. 33. Jesus, there- 
fore, said to them, Yet a little while am I with you, and I go to him who 
hath sent me. 34. You shall seek me, and shall not find me ; and where 
I am, you cannot come. 35. The Jews, therefore, said among them- 
selves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him ? Will he go to those 
who are scattered among the Greeks, 1 and teach the Greeks? 36. What 
is this saying which he hath spoken, You shall seek me, and shall not find 
me, and whither 1 go, you cannot come ? 

31. And many of the multitude believed in him. We might 
have thought that Christ preached to deaf and altogether 
obstinate persons ; and yet the Evangelist says that some 
fruit followed. And, therefore, though some may murmur, 
and others scorn, and others slander, and though many dif- 
ferences of opinion may arise, still the preaching of the Gos- 
pol will net be without effect ; so that we must sow the seed, 
and wait with patience until, in process of time, the fruit 
appear. The word believe is here used inaccurately, for they 

1 "Vers cenx qui sont espsrs entre lea Gre.cs." 


depended more on miracles than they relied on doctrine, and 
were not convinced that Jesus was the Christ ; but as they 
were prepared to listen to him, and showed themselves willing 
to receive instruction from him as their Teacher, such a pre- 
paration for faith is called faith. When the Holy Spirit 
bestows so honourable a designation on a small spark of good 
disposition, it ought to encourage us, so as not to doubt that 
faith, however small it may be, is acceptable to God. 

32. The Pharisees heard. Plence it appears that the Pha- 
risees, like persons set on the watch, were anxious on all 
occasions not to permit Christ to be known. In the first 
instance the Evangelist calls them only Pharisees, and next 
he adds to them the priests, of whom the Pharisees were a 
part. There can be no doubt that, as they wished to be 
reckoned the greatest zealots for the Law, they opposed 
Christ more bitterly than all the other sects; but finding that 
their unaided exertions were not sufficient to oppress Christ, 
they committed the affair to the whole order of the priests. 
Thus they who, in other respects, differed among themselves 
now conspire together, under the guidance of Satan, against 
the Son o f God. Meanwhile, since the Pharisees had such 
ardent zeal and such incessant toil for defending their tyranny 
and the corrupt state of the Church, how much more zeal- 
ous ought we to be in maintaining the kingdom of Christ! 
The Papists in the present day are not less mad or less eager 
to extinguish the Gospel ; and yet it is monstrously wicked 
that their example does not, at least, whet our desires, and 
cause us to labour with greater boldness in the defence of 
true and sound doctrine. 

33. Yet a little while am I with you. Some think that this 
sermon was addressed to the assembly of the people who 
were present, and others, that it was addressed to the officers 
who had been sent to seize Christ. But for my own part, I 
have no doubt that Christ particularly addresses his enemies, 
who had taken counsel to destroy him ; for he ridicules their 
efforts, because they will be utterly ineffectual, until the time 
decreed by the Father be come. And at the same time, he 


reproaches them for their obstinacy, because they not only 
reject, but furiously oppose, the grace which is offered to 
them ; and threatens that ere long it will be taken from them. 
When he says, 1 am with you, he rebukes their ingratitude, 
because, though he had been given to them by the Father, 
though he had come down to them from the heavenly glory, 
though, by calling them to be his familiar associates, he de- 
sired nothing more than to assist them, still there were few 
who received him. When he says, Yet a little while, he warns 
them that God will not long endure that his grace should be 
exposed to such shameful contempt. Yet he also means, 
that neither his life nor his death is placed at their disposal, 
but that his Father has fixed a time, which must be fulfilled. 
I go to hint who hath sent me. By these words he testifies 
that he will not be extinguished by his death, but, on the 
contrary, when he shall have laid aside his mortal body, will 
be declared to be the Son of God by the magnificent triumph 
of his resurrection ; as if he had said, " Labour as much as you 
please, yet you will never hinder my Father from receiving 
me into his heavenly glory, when I have discharged the em- 
bassy which he has committed to me. Thus not only will 
my rank remain undiminished after my death, but a more 
excellent condition is then provided for me." Besides, Ave 
ought to draw from it a general admonition ; for as often as 
Christ calls us to the hope of salvation by the preaching of 
the Gospel, he is present with us. For not without reason 
is the preaching of the Gospel called Christ's descent to us, 
where it is said, he came and preached peace to those who were 
far off, and to those who ivere near, (Eph. ii. 17.) If we accept 
the hand which he holds out, he will lead us to the Father; 
and so long as we must sojourn in the world, not only will 
he show himself to be near us, but will constantly dwell in 
us. And if we disregard his presence, he will lose nothing, 
but, departing from us, will leave us altogether strangers to 
God and to life. 

34. You shall seek me. They sought Christ, to put him to 
death. Here Christ alludes to the ambiguous signification of 
the word seek, for soon they shall seek lam in another manner ; 


as if he had said, {( My presence, which is now irksome and 
intolerable to you, will last for a short time ; but ere long 
you shall seek me in vain, for, far removed from you, not only 
by my body, but also by my power, I shall behold from heaven 
your destruction." But here a question may be put, of what 
nature was this seeking of Christ ? For it is plain enough 
that Christ speaks of the reprobate, whose obstinacy in re- 
jecting Christ had reached the utmost point. Some refer it 
to doctrine, because the Jews, by foolishly pursuing the right- 
eousness of works, did not obtain what they desired, (Rom. ix. 
31.) Many understand it as referring to the person of the 
Messiah, because the Jews, reduced to extremities, in vain 
implored a Redeemer. But for my own part, I explain it as 
merely denoting the groans of distress uttered by the wicked, 
when, compelled by necessity, they look in some manner 
towards God. 

And shall not find me. When they seek him, they do not 
seek him ; for unbelief and obstinacy — by shutting up their 
hearts, as it were — hinders them from approaching to God. 
They would desire, indeed, that God should aid them, and 
should be their Redeemer, but, by impenitence and hardness 
of heart, they obstruct their path. We have a very striking 
example 1 in Esau, who, on account of having lost his birth- 
right, not only is oppressed with grief, but groans and gnashes 
his teeth, and breaks out into furious indignation, (Gen. 
xxvii. 38; Heb. xii. 17.) But yet so far is he from the 
right way of seeking the blessing, that, at the very time 
when he is seeking it, 2 he renders himself more unworthy of 
it. In this manner God usually punishes the contempt of 
his grace in the reprobate, so that, either afflicted by severe 
punishments, or oppressed by a conviction of their misery, 
or reduced to other extremities, they complain, and cry, and 
howl, but without reaping any advantage ; for, being always 
like themselves, they nourish within their hearts the same 
cruelty which they formerly displayed, and do not go to God, 
but rather wish that he were changed, since they cannot 
destroy him. Hence let us learn that we ought to receive 

" Un fort bel exemple." " Quand il la cherclie." 


Christ without delay, while he is still pi-esent with us, that 
the opportunity of enjoying him may not pass away from us; 
for if the door be once shut, it will be vain for us to try to 
open it. Seek the Lord, says Isaiah, while he may be found; 
call upon him, zchile he is near, (Isa. lv. 6.) We ought there- 
fore to go to God early, while the time of his good pleasure 
lasts, as the prophet speaks, (Isa. xlix. 8 ;) for we know not 
how long God will bear with our negligence. In these words, 
where I am, you cannot come, he employs the present tense 
instead of the future, where I shall be, you shall not be able to 

35. Whither will he go ? This was added by the Evangelist, 
for the express purpose of showing how great was the 
stupidity of the people. Thus not only are wicked men deaf 
to hear God's instruction, but even dreadful threatenings are 
allowed by them to pass by in mockery, as if they were 
listening to a fable. Christ spoke expressly of the Father, 
but they remain fixed on the earth, and think of nothing else 
than a departure to distant countries. 

Will he go to the dispersion of the Greeks ? It is well known 
that the Jews gave the name of Greeks to all nations beyond 
the sea; but they do not mean that Christ will go to the 
uncircumcised nations, but to the Jews, who were dispersed 
through the various countries of the world. For the word 
dispersion would not apply to those who are natives of the 
place, and who inhabit their native soil, but applies well to 
the Jews, who were fugitives and exiles. Thus Peter inscribes 
his First Epistle vctPsvidyipoi; biaanopag, to the strangers of the 
dispersion, that is, to the strangers who are scattered 1 through 
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (1 Pet. i. 1 ;) 
and James salutes the twelve tribes h rp hac-xwa, in the disper- 
sion, that is, scattered abroad, (James i. 1.) The meaning of 
the words therefore is, " Will he cross the sea, to go to Jews 
who dwell in a world unknown to us?" And it is pos- 
sible that they intended to teaze Christ by this mockery. 
" If this be the Messiah, w T ill he fix the seat of his reign in 

kl Aux estrangera qui estes espars." 


Greece, since God has assigned to him the land of Canaan 
as his own habitation ?" But however that may be, we see 
that the severe threatening which Christ had uttered did 
not at all affect them. 

37. Now on the last day, which was the greatest day of the feast, Jesus 
stood, and exclaimed, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and 
drink. 38. He who believeth in me, as the Scripture saith, out of his 
belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this he spoke of the Spirit 
which they who believed in him were to receive. For the Holy Spirit was 
not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 

37. On the last day. The first thing that ought to be ob- 
served here is, that no plots or intrigues of enemies terrified 
Christ, so as to cause him to desist from his duty ; but, on 
the contrary, his courage rose with dangers, so that he per- 
severed with greater firmness. This is proved by the circum- 
stance of the time, the crowded assembly, and the freedom he 
used in exclaiming, while he knew that hands were stretched 
out on all sides to seize him ; for it is probable that the officers 
were at that time ready to execute their commission. 

We must next observe, that nothing else than the protec- 
tion of God, on which he relied, enabled him to stand firm 
against such violent efforts of those men, who had every 
thing in their power. For what other reason can be 
assigned why Christ preached on the most public day of the 
festival, in the midst of the temple, over which his enemies 
enjoyed a quiet reign, and after that they had prepared a 
band of officers, but because God restrained their rage ? Yet 
it is highly useful to us, that the Evangelist introduces 
Christ exclaiming aloud, Let all to ho thirst come to me. For 
we infer from it that the invitation was not addressed to one 
or two persons only, or in a low and gentle whisper, but that 
this doctrine is proclaimed to all, in such a manner that none 
may be ignorant of it, but those who, of their own accord 
shutting their ears, will not receive this loud and distinct cry. 

If any man thirst. By this clause he exhorts all to partake 
of his blessings, provided that, from a conviction of their own 
poverty, they desire to obtain assistance. For it is true that 
we are all poor and destitute of every blessing, but it is far 
from being true that all are roused by a conviction of their 


poverty to seek relief. Hence it arises that many persons 
do not stir a foot, but wretchedly wither and decay, and there 
are even very many who are not affected by a perception of 
their emptiness, until the Spirit of God, by his own fire, 
kindle hunger and thirst in their hearts. It belongs to the 
Spirit, therefore, to cause us to desire his grace. 

As to the present passage, we ought to observe, first, that 
none are called to obtain the riches of the Spirit but those 
who burn with the desire of them. For we know that the 
pain of thirst is most acute and tormenting, so that the very 
strongest men, and those who can endure any amount of toil, 
are overpowered by thirst. And yet he invites the thirsty 
rather than the hungry, in order to pursue the metaphor 
which he afterwards employs in the word water and the word 
drink, that all the parts of the discourse may agree with each 
other. And I have no doubt that he alludes to that passage 
in Isaiah, All that thirst, come to the tcaters, (Isa. lv. 1.) For 
what the Prophet there ascribes to God must have been at 
length fulfilled in Christ, as also that which the blessed 
Virgin sung, that those who are rich and full he sendeth empty 
away, (Luke i. 53.) He therefore enjoins us to come direct 
to himself, as if he had said, that it is he alone who can fully 
satisfy the thirst of all, and that all who seek even the smallest 
alleviation of their thirst anywhere else are mistaken, and 
labour in vain. 

And let him drink. To the exhortation a promise is added ; 
for though the word — let him drink — conveys an exhortation, 
still ,it contains within itself a promise ; because Christ testi- 
fies that he is not a dry and worn-out cistern, but an inex- 
haustible fountain, which largely and abundantly supplies all 
who will come to drink. Hence it follows that, if we ask 
from him what we want, our desire will not be disappointed. 

38. He who believcth in me. He now points out the man- 
ner of coming, which is, that we must approach, not with the 
feet, but by faith ; or rather, to come is nothing else than to 
believe, at least, if you define accurately the word believe; as 
we have already said that we believe in Christ, when we 
embrace him as he is held out to us in the Gospel, full of 


power, wisdom, righteousness, purity, life, and all the gifts of 
the Holy Spirit. Besides, he now confirms more plainly and 
fully the promise which we lately mentioned ; for he shows 
that he has a rich abundance to satisfy us to the full. 

Out of his belly shall Jlow rivers of living water* The meta- 
phor appears, no doubt, to be somewhat harsh, when he says 
that rivers of living water shall flow out of the belly of believers ; 
but there can be no doubt as to the meaning, that they who 
believe shall suffer no want of spiritual blessings. He calls 
it living water, the fountain of which never grows dry, nor 
ceases to flow continually. As to the word rivers being in 
the plural number, I interpret it as denoting the diversified 
graces of the Spirit, which are necessary for the spiritual life 
of the soul. In short, the perpetuity, as well as the abun- 
dance, of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, 1 is here 
promised to us. Some understand the saying — that waters 
flow out of the belly of believers — to mean, that he to whom 
the Spirit has been given makes a part to flow to his 
brethren, as there ought to be mutual communication be- 
tween us. But I consider it to be a simpler meaning, that 
whosoever shall believe in Christ shall have a fountain of life 
springing up, as it were, in himself, as Christ said formerly, 
He who shall drink of this water shall never thirst, (John iv. 
14 ;) for while ordinary drinking quenches thirst only for a 
short time, Christ says that by faith we draw the Spirit, that 
he may become a fountain of water springing up into everlast- 
ing life. 

Still he does not say that, on the first day, believers are so 
fully satisfied with Christ, that ever afterwards they neither 
hunger nor thirst ; but, on the contrary, the enjoyment of 
Christ kindles a new desire of him. But the meaning is, 
that the Holy Spirit is like a living and continually flowing 
fountain in believers ; as Paul also declares that he is life in 
us, (Rom. viii. 10,) though we still carry about, in the re- 
mains of sin, the cause of death. And, indeed, as every one 
partakes of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, according 
to the measure of his faith, we cannot possess a perfect fulness 

1 " Dcs dons et graces du Sainct Esprit." 


of them in the present life. But believers, while they make 
progress in faith, continually aspire to fresh additions of the 
Spirit, so that the first-fruits which they have tasted carry 
them forward to perpetuity of life. But we are also re- 
minded by it, how small is the capacity of our faith, since 
the graces of the Spirit scarcely come into us by drops, 
which would flow like rivers, if we gave due admission to 
Christ ; that is, if faith made us capable of receiving him. 

As the Scripture saith. Some confine this to the former 
clause, and others to the latter clause ; for my own part, I 
extend it to the entire scope of the discourse. Besides, 
Christ does not here, in my opinion, point out any particular 
passage of Scripture, but produces a testimony drawn from 
the ordinary doctrine of the Prophets. For whenever the 
Lord, promising an abundance of his Spirit, compares it to 
living waters, he looks principally to the kingdom of Christ, 
to which he directs the minds of believers. All the predic- 
tions of living waters, therefore, have their fulfilment in Christ, 
because he alone hath opened and displayed the hidden trea- 
sures of God. The reason why the graces of the Spirit are 
poured out on him is, that we may all draw out of his fulness, 
(John i. 16.) Those persons, therefore, whom Christ so 
kindly and graciously calls, and who wander in every direc- 
tion, deserve to perish miserably. 

39. But this he spoke of the Spirit. The word water is some- 
times applied to the Spirit on account of its purity, because 
it is his office to cleanse our pollutions ; but in this and 
similar passages this term is employed in a different accepta- 
tion, which is, that we are destitute of all the sap and 
moisture of life, unless when the Spirit of God quickens us, 
and when he waters us, as it were, by secret vigour. Under 
one part he includes the whole ; l for under the one word water 
he includes all the parts of life. Hence we infer also, that 
all who have not been regenerated by the Spirit of Christ 
ought to be reckoned dead, whatever may be the pretended 
life of which they boast. 

1 " Sous une partie il coniprend le tout." 


For the Holy Spirit was not yet given. We know that the 
Spirit is eternal ; but the Evangelist declares that, so long 
as Christ dwelt in the world in the mean form of a servant, 
that grace of the Spirit, which was poured out on men after 
the resurrection of Christ, had not been openly manifested. 
And, indeed, he speaks comparatively, in the same manner 
as when the New Testament is compared to the Old. God 
promises his Spirit to his elect and believers, 1 as if he had 
never given him to the Fathers. At that very time, the 
disciples had undoubtedly received the first-fruits of the 
Spirit ; for whence comes faith but from the Spirit ? The 
Evangelist, therefore, does not absolutely affirm that the 
grace of the Spirit was not offered and given 2 to believers 
before the death of Christ, but that it was not yet so bright 
and illustrious as it would afterwards become. For it is the 
highest ornament of the kingdom of Christ, that he governs 
his Church by his Spirit ; but he entered into the lawful and 
—what may be called — the solemn possession of his king- 
dom, when he was exalted to the right hand of the Father ; 
so that we need not wonder if he delayed till that time the 
full manifestation of the Spirit. 

But one question still remains to be answered. Does he 
mean here the visible graces of the Spirit, or the regeneration 
which is the fruit of adoption ? I answer : The Spirit, who 
had been promised at the coming of Christ, appeared in those 
visible gifts, as in mirrors ; but here the question relates 
strictly to the power of the Spirit, by which we are born 
again in Christ, and become new creatures. That we lie on 
earth poor, and famished, and almost destitute of spiritual 
blessings, while Christ now sits in glory at the right hand of 
the Father, and clothed with the highest majesty of govern- 
ment, ought to be imputed to our slothfulness, and to the 
small measure of our faith. 

40. Many of the multitude, therefore, having heard this sermon, said, 
This is truly a Prophet. 3 41. Others said, This is the Christ. And 

1 " A ses eleus et fideles." 2 " Offerte et donnee."' 

3 " Cestuy-ci est veritablement Prophete, ow, le Prophete." — "This is 
truly a Prophet, or, the Prophet.''' 


Others said, But will Christ come out of Galilee? 42. Doth not the 
Scripture say that Christ will come from the seed of David, and from the 
town of Bethlehem, where David dwelt? 43. There was therefore a dif- 
ference of opinion in the multitude on account of him. 44. And some of 
them wished to seize him, but no man laid hands on him. 

40. Many of the multitude. The Evangelist now relates 
what fruit followed from this last sermon of our Lord Jesus 
Christ; namely, that some thought one thing and some 
another, so that a difference of opinion arose among the people. 
It ought to be observed that John does not speak of the 
open enemies of Christ, or of those who were already filled 
with deadly hatred 1 against sound doctrine, but of the com- 
mon people, among whom there ought to have been greater 
integrity. He enumerates three classes of them. 

He is truli/ a Prophet The first acknowledged that Jesus 
was trul// a Prophet, from which we infer that they did not 
dislike his doctrine. But, on the other hand, how light and 
trifling this confession was, is evident from the fact, that, 
while they approve of the Teacher, they neither understand 
what he means, nor relish what he says ; for they could not 
truly receive him as a Prophet, without, at the same time, 
acknowledging that he is the Son of God and the Author of 
their salvation. Yet this is good in them, that they perceive 
in Christ something Divine, which leads them to regard him 
with reverence ; for this willingness to learn might afterwards 
give an easy opening to faith. 

41. Others said, He is the Christ. The second have a more 
correct opinion than the first ; for they plainly acknowledge 
that he is the Christ ; but the third 2 rise up against them, 
and hence proceeds the debate. By this example we are 
warned that we ought not to think it strange in the present 
day, if men are divided among themselves by various contro- 
versies. We learn that Christ's sermon produced a schism, 
and that not among Gentiles who w r ere strangers to the faith, 
but in the midst of the Church of Christ, and even in the 
chief seat of the Church. Shall the doctrine of Christ be 
blamed on that account, as if it were the cause of disturban- 

1 "De mortelle haine." 2 " Les troisiemes." 


ces ? Nay rather, though the whole world were in commo- 
tion, the word of God is so precious, that we ought to wish 
that it were received, at least by a few. There is no reason, 
therefore, why our consciences should be distressed, when 
we see those who wish to be accounted the people of God 
fighting with each other by contrary opinions. 

Yet it ought also to be observed that divisions do not pro- 
perly draw their origin from the Gospel ; for there can be no 
firm agreement among men except in undoubted truth. As 
to the peace maintained among those who know not God, it 
arises more from stupidity than from true agreement. In 
short, of all the differences which spring up, when the Gospel 
is preached, the cause and seed formerly lay concealed in 
men ; but when they are awakened, as it were, out of sleep, 
they begin to move, just as vapours are produced by some- 
thing else than the sun, although it is not till the sun arises 
that they make their appearance. 

But will Christ come out of Galilee ? That they may not 
be thought to reject Christ on insufficient grounds, they 
fortify themselves by the testimony of Scripture ; and though 
they do violence to this passage, by turning it improperly 
against Christ, still they have some appearance of truth. 
In this point only they are in the wrong, that they make 
Christ a Galilean. But whence arises this ignorance but from 
contempt? For if they had taken the trouble to inquire, 
they would have seen that Christ was adorned with both 
titles ; that he was born in Bethlehem, and that he was the 
son of David. But such is our natural disposition ; in mat- 
ters of little consequence we are ashamed of being indolent, 
while, in the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom, we slumber 
without any concern. It is likewise of importance to ob- 
serve, that those men are diligent and industrious in seeking 
an excuse for turning aside from Christ, but, at the same 
time, are astonishingly slow and dull in receiving sound doc- 
trine. In this manner, out of the Scriptures themselves, 
which lead us by the hand to Christ, men frequently make 
obstacles for themselves, that they may not come to Christ. 

43. Some of them wished to seize him. By these words the 


Evangelist means, that they not only despised Christ, but 
that their wicked rejection of him was accompanied by 
cruelty and eagerness to do him injury; fur superstition is 
always cruel. That their efforts were unavailing, we ought 
to ascribe to the providence of God ; for since Christ's hour 
was not yet come, as has been formerly said, guarded by the 
protection of his Father, on which he relied, he surmounted 
all dangers. 

45. So the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they 
said to them, Why have you not brought him ? 46. The officers answered, 
Never man spoke like this man. 47. The Pharisees therefore answered 
them, And are you also seduced ? 48. Hath any of the rulers, or of the 
Pharisees, believed in him ? 49. But this multitude, who know not the 
law, are accursed. 50. Nicodemus said to them, (he who came to him 
by night, for he was one of them,) 51. Doth our law judge a man before 
it hath heard him, and knoweth what he doth ? 52. They answered and 
said to him, Art thou also of Galilee ? Seai-ch and see, that no Prophet 
hath arisen out of Galilee. 53. And every man went to his own house. 

45. So the officers came. Here Ave may see how blind is the 
arrogance of men. To such an extent do they admire and 
adore the greatness which renders them eminent, that they 
have no hesitation in trampling under foot morality and reli- 
gion. If any thing happen contrary to their wish, they 
would willingly mingle heaven and earth ; for when these 
haughty and wicked priests x ask, ichy Christ teas not brought, 
they magnify their power so greatly as if nothing ought to 
oppose their command. 

4fi. Never man spoke like this man. Those officers acknow- 
ledge that they are subdued and vanquished by the word of 
Christ, and yet they do not on that account repent or give 
due honour to the word. If it be true, that never man spoke 
like this man, why did not the Divine power, which they 
were compelled to feel, touch their hearts in such a manner 
as to cause them to devote themselves wholly to God ? But 
it was necessary that the prediction of Isaiah should thus be 
accomplished : he tvill prostrate the icicked by the breath of his 
mouth, (Isa. xi. 4.) Nay more, we shall afterwards see how 

1 " Ces orgueilleur et medians sacrificateurs." 
VOL. I. U 


those who were attempting to put him to death, overwhelmed 
by the voice of Christ alone, and as if they had been struck 
down with mallets, fell backwards, (John xviii. 6.) Let us, 
therefore, learn that the doctrine of Christ possesses such 
power as even to terrify the wicked ; but as this tends to 
their destruction, let us take care that we be softened, in- 
stead of being broken. Even in the present day, we see 
many persons who too much resemble those officers, who are 
reluctantly drawn into admiration of the doctrine of the 
Gospel, and yet are so far from yielding to Christ, that they 
still remain in the enemy's camp. There are others even 
worse, who, for the sake of obtaining favour with the wicked, 
employ all the opprobrious terms which they can find for 
basely slandering that doctrine, which, notwithstanding, they 
acknowledge to be from God, because they are convinced of 
it in their hearts. 1 

47. And are xjou also seduced? While they reprove their 
officers, they endeavour, at the same time, to keep them in 
subjection. For by these words they mean, that it would 
be unreasonable and unbecoming that they should not re- 
main steady, though the whole people should revolt. But 
we must see on what argument they rest, when they so 
haughtily insult Christ. 

48. Has any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed in him ? 
" He has none on his side," they say, " but low and ignorant 
men ; the rulers, and every person of distinction, are opposed 
to him." They expressly name the Pharisees, because they 
had a reputation above others, both for knowledge and 
holiness, so that they might be said to be the princes of the 
people. This objection appears to have some plausibility ; 
for if the rulers and governors of the Church do not retain 
their authority, it is impossible that any thing shall ever be 
properly done, or that the good order of the Church shall 
long continue. We know what are the fierce passions of the 
common people ; in consequence of which the most frightful 

1 " Laquelle toutesfois ils confessent estre de Dieu, d'autant qu'ils en 
sont conveincus en leurs cocurs." 


disorder must follow, when every man is allowed to do what 
he pleases. The authority of those who rule is therefore a 
necessary bridle for preserving the good order of the Church ; 
and, accordingly, it was provided by the Law of God that, 
if any question or controversy should arise, it should be sub- 
mitted to the decision of the High Priest, (Deut. xvii. 8.) 

But they err in this respect, that, while they claim for 
themselves the highest authority, they are unwilling to sub- 
mit to God. It is true that God conferred the power of 
judgment on the high priest, but God did not intend that 
the high priest should decide, except according to his Law. 
All the authority that is possessed by pastors, therefore, is 
subject to the word of God, that all may be kept in their 
own rank, from the greatest to the smallest, and that God 
alone may be exalted. If pastors who honestly and sincerely 
discharge their duty, claim authority for themselves, this 
glorying will be holy and lawful; but when the mere 
authority of men is supported, without the authority of God's 
word, it is vain and useless boasting. But it often happens 
that wicked men rule in the Church ; and therefore we must 
beware of giving any authority to men, as soon as they 
depart from the w r ord of God. 

We see that nearly all the prophets were tormented by 
this kind of annoyance ; for, in order to bury their doctrine, 
men continually brought against them the magnificent titles 
of Princes, of Priests, and of the Church. Provided with the 
same armour, Papists in the present day rage not less fiercely 
than did the adversaries of Christ and of the Prophets in 
former times. It is a horrible blindness, indeed, when a 
mortal man is not ashamed to oppose himself to God ; but to 
such a pitch of madness does Satan carry those who set a 
higher value on their own ambition than on the truth of God. 
Meanwhile, it is our duty to cherish such a reverence for the 
word of God as shall extinguish all the splendour of the 
w r orld, and scatter its vain pretensions ; for miserable would 
be our condition, if our salvation depended on the will of 
princes, and far too unsteady would our faith be, if it were 
to stand or fall according to their pleasure. 


49. But this multitude. The first part of their pride was, 
that, relying on the title of Priests, they wished to subject 
all to them in a tyrannical manner. The next is, that they 
despise others as men of no estimation, as those who exces- 
sively flatter themselves are always disposed to abuse others, 
and an immoderate love of ourselves is accompanied by con- 
tempt of the brethren. They pronounce the whole populace 
to be accursed; and why? It is no doubt alleged by them 
that the people do not know the law ; but another reason, which 
they concealed, was, that they thought that there was no 
holiness but in their own rank. In like manner, the Popish 
priests in our own day pretend that none but themselves 
deserve to be called the Church ; and all others, whom they 
call the laity, they despise as if they were profane persons. 
But to throw down such madness of pride, God prefers the 
mean and despised to those who hold the highest authority 
and power. And it ought to be observed that they here 
boast of knowledge, not that which instructs men in religion 
and the fear of God, but such as they possessed while, with 
magisterial pride, they gave forth their responses, as if they 
alone had been qualified to interpret the law. It is undoubt- 
edly true, that all who have not been instructed in the law 
of God are accursed, because by the knowledge of it we are 
truly sanctified. But this knowledge is not confined to a few 
who, swelled with false confidence, wish to exclude them- 
selves from the rank of other men, but belongs in common 
to all the children of God, that all, from the smallest even to 
the greatest, may be united in the same obedience of faith. 

50. Nicodemus said to them. The Evangelist describes 
Nicodemus as a neutral man, who does not venture to under- 
take in good earnest the defence of sound doctrine, and yet 
cannot endure to have the truth oppressed. 

He who came to Jesus by night. This circumstance is men- 
tioned by the Evangelist, partly to the praise, and partly to 
the disgrace, of Nicodemus. If he had not loved the doctrine 
of Christ, he would never have dared to meet the rage of 
wicked men ; for he knew that, if any of them but opened 
his mouth, he would be immediately exposed to dislike and 


to danger. When, therefore, he ventures to throw out one 
word, however feeble it may be, some small spark of godli- 
ness shines from his heart; but in not defending Christ 
openly, he manifests excessive timidity. Thus the Evangelist 
means that he has still a hankering after the concealment of 
the night, and is not a true disciple of Christ. He says that 
he once came to Jesus by night, but remained openly among 
his enemies, and kept his place in their camp. 

This ought to be the more carefully observed, because 
there are many in the present day who plead that they re- 
semble Nicodemus, and hope that, by assuming this mask, 
they will mock God with impunity. Granting what they 
ask, that there is no difference between them and Nicodemus, 
Avhat assistance, pray, do they derive from such an example ? 
Nicodemus says that Christ ought not to be condemned until he 
be heard; and the same thing might be said of a robber or an 
assassin; for it is a well-known and proverbial sentiment, 
that it is better to acquit the innocent than to condemn the 
guilty. Besides, in his attempts to release the person of 
Christ, he leaves and abandons the doctrine. What shall we 
find here that is worthy of a believer or a Christian ? x Thus 
the seed of the gospel, Avhich afterwards bore fruit, was still 
concealed and choked in him. We shall apply this example 
far more profitably to another purpose, that the Lord fre- 
quently causes the doctrine, which seemed to have perished, 
gradually to take a concealed root, and, after a long period, 
to put forth some bud, first like an untimely plant, after- 
wards lively and vigorous ; just as the faith of Nicodemus 
acquired new and sudden vigour from the death of Christ. 

52. Art thou also from Galilee ? They say that all who 
favour Christ are from Galilee, and this is spoken reproach- 
fully, as if he could not have any person among his followers 
except from the small and unknown corner of Galilee. 2 The 
extreme violence to which they are excited against Nico- 
demus, shows with what furious hatred they burned against 
Christ ; for he had not avowedly undertaken to defend Christ, 

1 " D'un homme fidele et Chrestien." 

2 " De ce petit coin incognee de Galilee." 


but had only said that he owjht not to he condemned he/ore he 
was heard. Thus among the Papists in our own day, no man 
can show the slightest token of candour that the Gospel may 
not be oppressed, but immediately the enemies fly into a 
passion, and exclaim that he is a heretic. 

53. And every man icent to his oxen house. Now follows an 
astonishing close of the transaction. If any one take into 
account what was the reign of the priests at that time, with 
what rage they were excited, and how vast was their retinue, 
and, on the other hand, if he consider that Christ was un- 
armed and defenceless, and that there was no body of men to 
protect him, the conclusion must be, that it was all over with 
him a hundred times. When so formidable a conspiracy is 
dissolved of its own accord, and when all those men, like 
waves of the sea, break themselves by their own violence, 
who will not acknowledge that they were scattered by the 
hand of God ? But God always continues to be like himself; 
and therefore, whenever he pleases, he will bring to nothing 
all the efforts of enemies, so that, while they have everything 
in their power, and are ready and prepared to execute their 
design, they will depart without having done their work. 
And we have often found that, whatever contrivances our 
enemies have made to extinguish the Gospel, yet by the 
amazing kindness of God, it immediately fell powerless to 
the ground. 


1. But Jesus went to the mountain of Olives. 2. And early in the 
morning he again came to the temple, and all the people came to him ; 
and sitting down, he taught them. 3. And the scribes and Pharisees 
bring to him a woman caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst, 
4. They say to him, Master, this woman was caught in the very act, while 
she was committing adultery. 5. Now in the law Moses commanded us 
to stone such persons ; but what sayest thou ? 6. Now they said this, 
trying him, that they might have ground for accusing him. But Jesus, 
casting down his eyes, 1 wrote with the finger on the ground. 7. And as 
they persisted in asking him, he lifted up "his eyes, 2 and said to them, He 

1 " S'enclinant en bas."— " Stooping down." 2 " II se dressa." 


who is -without sin amongst you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8. And 
again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9. And having heard 
that, and being reproved by their conscience, they went out one by one, 
beginning at the eldest even to the last ; so that Jesus was left alone, and 
the woman who stood in the midst. 10. And Jesus, lifting up his eyes, 
having seen nobody but the woman, said to her, Woman, where are thy 
accusers? Hath no man condemned thee ? 11. She said, No man, Lord. 
Jesus answered her, Neither do I condemn thee : go, and sin no more. 

3. And the scribes and Pharisees bring to him. It is plain 
enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek 
Churches ; and some conjecture that it has been brought from 
some other place and inserted here. But as it has always been 
received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old 
Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apos- 
tolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply 
it to our advantage. "When the Evangelist says that the 
scribes brought to him a woman, he means that it was done by an 
agreement among them, in order to lay traps for Christ. He 
expressly mentions the Pharisees, because they were the chief 
persons in the rank of scribes. In adopting this pretence for 
slander, they display enormous wickedness, and even their 
own lips accuse them; for they do not disguise that they 
have a plain commandment of the Law, and hence it follows 
that they act maliciously in putting a question as if it were a 
doubtful matter. But their intention was, to constrain Christ 
to depart from his office of preaching grace, that he might 
appear to be fickle and unsteady. They expressly state that 
adulteresses are condemned by Moses, (Lev. xx. 10,) that they 
may hold Christ bound by the sentence already given by the 
Law, for it was not lawful to acquit those whom the Law con- 
demned; and, on the other hand, if he had consented to the 
Law, he might be thought to be somew T hat unlike himself. 

6. And Jesus stooping down. By this attitude he intended 
to show that he despised them. Those who conjecture that 
he wrote this or the other thing, in my opinion, do not under- 
stand his meaning. Nor do I approve of the ingenuity of 
Augustine, who thinks that in this manner the distinction 
between the Law and the Gospel is pointed out, because 
Christ did not write on tables of stone, (Exod. xxxi. 18,) but 
on man, who is dust and earth. For Christ rather intended, 


by doing nothing, to show how unworthy they were of being 
heard ; just as if any person, while another was speaking to 
him, were to draw lines on the wall, or to turn his back, or to 
show, by any other sign, that he was not attending to what 
was said. Thus in the present day, when Satan attempts, by 
various methods, to draw us aside from the right way of 
teaching, we ought disdainfully to pass by many things which 
he holds out to us. The Papists teaze us, to the utmost of 
their power, by many trifling cavils, as if they were throwing 
clouds into the air. If godly teachers be laboriously employed 
in examining each of those cavils, they will begin to weave 
Penelope's web; 1 and therefore delays of this sort, which do 
nothing but hinder the progress of the Gospel, are wisely 

7. He who is without sin among you. He said this accord- 
ing to the custom of the Law ; for God commanded that the 
witnesses should, with their own hands, put malefactors to 
death, according to the sentence which had been pronounced 
on them ; that greater caution might be used in bearing tes- 
timony, (Deut. xvii. 7.) There are many who proceed 
rashly to overwhelm their brother by perjury, because they 
do not think that they inflict a deadly wound by their tongue. 
And this very argument had weight with those slanderers, 
desperate as they were ; for no sooner do they obtain a sight 
of it, than they lay aside those fierce passions with which they 
were swelled when they came. Yet there is this difference 
between the injunction of the Law and the words of Christ, 
that in the Law God merely enjoined that they should not 
condemn a man Avith the tongue, unless they were permitted 
to put him to death with their own hands ; but here Christ 

1 " Ce sera toujours a recoramencer ;" — " they will always have to begin 
anew." Dropping the classical allusion, our Author has thus conveyed 
the meaning to his countrymen in plain terms. All who have read 
Homer's Odyssey will remember Penelope, the wife of Ulysses, and espe- 
cially that part of her history to which Calvin refers, that what she 
wove during the day she unravelled during the night, and thus accom- 
plished her resolution that she should be daily employed in weaving, and 
yet that her web should not be finished till after her husband's return. 
Penelopes telam texere, to weave Penelope's web, was a proverbial expres- 
sion, which the Romans borrowed from the Greeks. — Ed. 


demands from the witnesses perfect innocence, so that no man 
ought to accuse another of crime, unless he be pure, and free 
from every fault. Now what he said, at that time, to a few 
persons, we ought to view as spoken to all, that whoever 
accuses another, ought to impose on himself a law of inno- 
cence ; otherwise, we do not pursue wicked actions, but rather 
are hostile to the persons of men. 

In this way, however, Christ appears to take out of the 
world all judicial decisions, so that no man shall dare to say 
that he has a right to punish crimes. For shall a single 
judge be found, who is not conscious of having something 
that is wrong? Shall a single witness be produced who is 
not chargeable with some fault ? He appears, therefore, to 
forbid all witnesses to give public testimony, and all judges 
to occupy the judgment-seat. I reply : this is not an absolute 
and unlimited prohibition, by which Christ forbids sinners to 
do their duty in correcting the sins of others ; but by this 
word he only reproves hypocrites, who mildly flatter them- 
selves and their vices, but are excessively severe, and even 
act the part of felons, in censuring others. No man, there- 
fore, shall be prevented by his own sins from correcting the 
sins of others, and even from punishing them, when it may 
be found necessary, provided that both in himself and in others 
he hate what ought to be condemned ; and in addition to all 
this, every man ought to begin by interrogating his own con- 
science, and by acting both as witness and judge against 
himself, before he come to others. In this manner shall we, 
without hating men, make war with sins. 

9. And being reproved by their conscience. Here we perceive 
how great is the power of an evil conscience. Though those 
wicked hypocrites intended to entrap Christ by their cavils, 
yet as soon as he pierces their consciences by a single word, 
shame puts them to flight. This is the hammer with which 
Ave must break the pride of hypocrites. They must be 
summoned to the judgment-seat of God. Though it is 
possible that the shame, with which they were struck before 
men, had greater influence over them than the fear of God, 
still it is a great matter that, of their own accord, they 


acknowledge themselves to be guilty, when they thus fly 
away as if they were confounded. It is immediately added, 

Beginning from the eldest even to the last. Our attention is 
drawn to this circumstance, that, according as each of them sur- 
passed the others in honourable rank, he was the more quickly 
moved by his condemnation. And would to God that 1 our 
scribes, who in the present day sell their labours to the Pope 
to make war with Christ, had at least as much modesty as 
those men ; but they are so destitute of shame that, while 
they have rendered themselves infamous by every detestable 
crime, they glory in the fact that they are permitted to be as 
abominable as they choose, without being punished. We 
ought also to observe how widely this conviction of sin, by 
which the scribes were affected, differs from true repentance. 
For we ought to be affected by the judgment of God in such 
a manner, that we shall not seek a place of concealment to 
avoid the presence of the Judge, but rather shall go direct 
to Him, in order to implore his forgiveness. 

Jesus ivas left alone. This was brought about by the Spirit 
of wisdom, that those wicked men, having gained nothing by 
tempting Christ, went away. Nor is there any reason to 
doubt that we shall succeed in defeating all the contrivances 
of our enemies, provided that we permit ourselves to be 
governed by the same Spirit. But it frequently happens that 
they gain an advantage over us, because, not attending to 
their snares, we are not careful to take advice, or rather, 
trusting to our own wisdom, we do not consider how much 
we need the government of the Holy Spirit. He says that 
Christ remained alone; not that the people, whom he was 
formerly teaching, had left him, but because all the scribes, 
who had brought the adulteress, gave him no farther annoy- 
ance. When it is said that the woman remained with Christ, 
let us learn by this example that there is nothing better for 
us than to be brought, as guilty, to his tribunal, provided 
that we surrender ourselves mildly and submissively to his 

1 " Pleust k Dieu que." 


11. Neither do I condemn thee. We are not told that Christ 
absolutely acquitted the woman, but that he allowed her to go 
at liberty. Nor is this wonderful, for he did not wish to 
undertake any thing that did not belong to his office. He had 
been sent by the Father to gather the lost sheep, (Matth. x. 6 ;) 
and, therefore, mindful of his calling, he exhorts the woman 
to repentance, and comforts her by a promise of grace. They 
who infer from this that adultery ought not to be punished 
with death, must, for the same reason, admit that inheritances 
ought not to be divided, because Christ refused to arbitrate 
in that matter between two brothers, (Luke xii. 13.) Indeed, 
there will be no crime whatever that shall not be exempted 
from the penalties of the law, if adultery be not punished ; 
for then the door will be thrown open for any kind of treachery, 
and for poisoning, and murder, and robbery. Besides, the 
adulteress, when she bears an unlawful child, not only robs 
the name of the family, but violently takes away the right of 
inheritance from the lawful offspring, and conveys it to 
strangers. But what is worst of all, the wife not only dis- 
honours the husband to whom she had been united, but 
prostitutes herself to shameful wickedness, and likewise 
violates the sacred covenant of God, without which no holi- 
ness can continue to exist in the world. 

Yet the Popish theology is, that in this passage Christ has 
brought to us the Law of grace, by which adulterers are freed 
from punishment. And though they endeavour, by every 
method, to efface from the minds of men the grace of God, 
suck grace as is every where declared to us by the doctrine 
of the Gospel, yet in this passage alone they preach aloud 
the Law of grace. Why is this, but that they may pollute, 
with unbi'idled lust, almost every marriage-bed, and may 
escape unpunished? Truly, this is the fine fruit 1 which we 
have reaped from the diabolical system of celibacy, that they 
who are not permitted to marry a lawful wife can commit 
fornication without restraint. But let us remember that, 
while Christ forgives the sins of men, he does not overturn 

1 " Voyla la beau fruict." 


political order, or reverse the sentences and punishments 
appointed by the laws. 

Go, and sin no more. Hence we infer what is the design 
of the grace of Christ. It is, that the sinner, being recon- 
ciled to God, may honour the Author of his salvation by a 
good and holy life. In short, by the same word of God, when 
forgiveness is offered to us, Ave are likewise called to repent- 
ance. Besides, though this exhortation looks forward to the 
future, still it humbles sinners by recalling to remembrance 
their past life. 

12. Therefore Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I am the light of the 
world ; he who followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the 
light of life. 13. The Pharisees therefore said to him, Thou testifiest con- 
cerning thyself, thy testimony is not true. 1 14. Jesus answered, and said 
to them, Though I testify concerning myself, my testimony is true : 2 for I 
know whence I came, and whither I go ; but you know not whence I 
come, and whither I go. 

12. I am the light of the icorld. Those who leave out the 
former narrative, which relates to the adulteress, 3 connect 
this discourse of Christ with the sermon which he delivered 
on the last day of the assembly. It is a beautiful commenda- 
tion of Christ, when he is called the light of the icorld; for, 
since we are all blind by nature, a remedy is offered, by which 
we may be freed and rescued from darkness and made par- 
takers of the true light. Nor is it only to one person or to 
another that this benefit is offered, for Christ declares that 
he is the light of the whole icorld ; for by this universal state- 
ment he intended to remove the distinction, not only between 
Jews and Gentiles, but between the learned and ignorant, 
between persons of distinction and the common people. 

But we must first ascertain what necessity there is for seek- 
ing this light; for men will never present themselves to Christ 
to be illuminated, until they have known both that this icorld 
is darkness, and that they themselves are altogether blind. 

1 " Ton tesmoignage n'est pas vrai ; c'est a dire, n'est point digne de 
foy." — " Thy testimony is not true ; that is, is not worthy of credit." 

2 " Mon tesmoignage est vray ; c'est a dire, digne de foy." — "My testi- 
mony is true ; that is, worthy of credit ." 

3 " De la femme adultere." 


Let us therefore know that, when the manner of obtaining 
this light is pointed out to us in Christ, we are all condemned 
for blindness, and everything else which we consider to be 
light is compared to darkness, and to a very dark night. For 
Christ does not speak of it as what belongs to him in common 
with others, but claims it as being peculiarly his own. Hence 
it follows, that out of Christ there is not even a spark of true 
light. There may be some appearance of brightness, but it 
resembles lightning, which only dazzles the eyes. It must 
also be observed, that the power and office of illuminating is 
not confined to the personal presence of Christ ; for though 
he is far removed from us with respect to his body, yet he 
daily sheds his light upon us, by the doctrine of the Gospel, 
and by the secret power of his Spirit. Yet we have not a 
full definition of this light, unless we learn that we are illu- 
minated by the Gospel and by the Spirit of Christ, that wc 
may know that the fountain of all knowledge and wisdom is 
hidden in him. 

He icho followeth me. To the doctrine he adds an exhorta- 
tion, which he immediately afterwards confirms by a promise. 
For when we learn that all who allow themselves tobe governed 
by Christ are out of danger of going astray, we ought to be 
excited to follow him, and, indeed, by stretching out his hand 
— as it were — he draws us to him. We ought also to be 
powerfully affected by so large and magnificent a promise, 
that they who shall direct their eyes to Christ are certain 
that, even in the midst of darkness, they will be preserved 
from going astray ; and that not only for a short period, but 
until they have finished their course. For that is the mean- 
ing of the words used in the future tense, he shall not walk in 
darkness, but shall have the light of life. Such is also the import 
of this latter clause, in which the perpetuity of life is stated 
in express terms. We ought not to fear, therefore, lest it 
leave us in the middle of the journey, for it conducts us even 
to life. The genitive of life, in accordance with the Hebrew 
idiom, is employed, instead of the adjective, to denote the 
effect ; as if he had said, the life-giving light. We need not 
wonder that such gross darkness of errors and superstitions 


prevails in the world, in which there are so few that have their 
eyes fixed on Christ. 

13. The Pharisees therefore said. They adduce as an ob- 
jection what is commonly said, that no man ought to be 
trusted, when speaking in his own cause. For a true testimony 
is put for " what is lawful and worthy of credit." In short, 
they mean that it is of no use for him to speak, unless he 
bring proof from some other quarter. 

14. TJ tough I testify concerning myself. Christ replies, that 
his testimony possesses sufficient credit and authority, because 
he is not a private person belonging to the great body of 
men, but holds a very different station. For when he says, 
that he knoiveth whence he came, and whither he yoeth, he thus 
excludes himself from the ordinary rank of men. The mean- 
ing therefore is, that every man is heard with suspicion in his 
own cause, and it is provided by the laws, that no man shall 
be believed, when he speaks for his own advantage. But this 
does not apply to the Son of God, who holds a rank above 
the whole Avorld ; for he is not reckoned as belonging to the 
rank of men, but has received from his Father this privilege, 
to reduce all men to obedience to him by a single word. 

7" know whence I came. By these words he declares that his 
origin is not from the world, but that he proceeded from God, 
and therefore that it would be unjust and unreasonable that 
his doctrine, which is Divine, should be subjected to the laws 
of men. But as he was at that time clothed with the form 
of a servant, in consequence of which they despised him on 
account of the mean condition of the flesh, he sends them 
away to the future glory of his resurrection, from which his 
Divinity, formerly hidden and unknown, received a clear de- 
monstration. That intermediate condition, therefore, ought 
not to have prevented the Jews from submitting to God's 
only ambassador, who had been formerly promised to them 
in the Law. 

But you know not ichence I came, and xohither I go. He 
means that his glory is not at all diminished by their un- 
belief. Again, as he has given the same testimony to us, our 


faith ought to despise all the reports and slanders of wicked 
men ; for it cannot be founded upon God without rising far 
above the loftiest pride of the world. But in order that we 
may perceive the majesty of his Gospel, we ought always to 
direct our eyes to the heavenly glory of the Son of God, 1 and 
to hear him speaking in the world, so as to remember whence 
he came, and what authority he now possesses, after having 
discharged his embassy. For as he humbled himself for a 
time, so now he is highly exalted 2 at the right hand of the 
Father, that every knee may bow to him, (Philip, ii. 10.) 

15. You judge according to the flesh ; I judge no man. 16. And if I 
judge, my judgment is true ; 3 for I am not alone, but I and the Father, 
who hath sent me. 17. It is even written in your law, that the testi- 
mony of two men is true. 18. I am one who testify concerning my- 
self, and the Father who hath sent me testifieth concerning me. 19. 
They said therefore to him, Where is thy Father ? Jesus answered, You 
neither know me nor my Father. If you had known me, you would have 
known niy Father also. 20. These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, 
teaching in the temple ; and no man seized him, because his hour was 
not yet come. 

15. You judge according to the flesh. This may be explained 
in two ways ; either that they judge according to the wicked 
views of the flesh, or that they judge according to the appear- 
ance of the person. For the flesh sometimes denotes the 
outwai-d appearance of a man ; and both meanings agree well 
with this passage, since wherever either the feelings of the 
flesh prevail, or a regard to the person regulates the judg- 
ment, neither truth nor justice dwells. But I think that the 
meaning will be more certain, if you contrast the flesh with 
the Spirit, understanding his meaning to be, that they are 
not lawful and competent judges, because they have not the 
Spirit for their guide. 

/ judge no man. Here, too, commentators differ. Some 
distinguish it thus, that he does not judge as man. Others 
refer it to the time, that while he was on earth, he did not 
undertake the office of a Judge. Augustine gives both 

1 " Du Fils de Dieu." 

2 " Aussi maintenant est-il haut eleve." 

3 " Mon jugement est vray ; e'est a dire, dignc defoy." — ' ; My judgment 
is true ; that is, worthy of credit." 


expositions, but does not decide between them. But the 
former distinction cannot at all apply. For this sentence 
contains two clauses, that Christ does not judge, and that 
if he judge, his judgment is solid and just, because it is divine. 
As to the former clause, therefore, in which he says that he 
does not judge, I confine it to what belongs peculiarly to this 
passage. For in order the more fully to convict his enemies 
of pride, he employs this comparison, that they unjustly 
assume the liberty to judge, and yet cannot condemn him, 
while he merely teaches and abstains from performing the 
office of a judge. 

16. And if I judge. He adds this correction, that he may 
not appear entirely to surrender his right. If I judge, says 
he, my judgment is true, that is, it is entitled to authority. 
Now the authority arises from this consideration, that he 
does nothing but according to the commandment of the 

For I am not alone. This phrase amounts to an affirmative, 
that he is not one of the ordinary rank of men, but that he 
must be considered along with the office which was assigned 
to him by the Father. But why does he not rather make an 
open assertion of his Divinity, as he might truly and justly 
have done ? The reason is, that as his Divinity was con- 
cealed under the veil of the flesh, he brings forward his 
Father, in whom it was more manifest. Still, the object of 
the discourse is, to show that all that he does and teaches 
ought to be accounted Divine. 

17. Even in your laio it is written. The argument might, 
at first sight, appear to be weak, because no man is received 
as a witness in his own cause. But we ought to remember 
what I have already said, that the Son of God 1 ought to be 
excluded from the ordinary number of other men, 2 because 
he neither is a private individual, nor transacts his own private 
business. As to his distinguishing himself from his Father, 
by doing so he accommodates himself to the capacity of his 

1 " Le Fils de Dieu." 2 "Du nombre coimnun dcs autres homines." 


hearers, and that on account of his office, because he was at 
that time a servant of the Father, from Avhom, therefore, he 
asserts that all his doctrine has proceeded. 

19. Where is thy Father? There can be no doubt what- 
ever, that it was in mockery that they inquired about his 
Father. For not only do they, with their wonted pride, treat 
contemptuously what he had said about the Father, but they 
likewise ridicule him for talking loftily about his Father, as if 
he had drawn his birth from heaven. By these words, there- 
fore, they mean that they do not value so highly Christ's 
Father, as to ascribe any thing to the Son on his account. 
And the reason why there are so many in the present day 
who, with daring presumption, despise Christ, is, that few 
consider that God has sent him. 

You neither know me nor my Father. He does not deign to 
give them a direct reply, but in a few words reproaches them 
with the ignorance in which they flattered themselves. They 
inquired about the Father ; and yet when they had the Son 
before their eyes, seeing, they did not see, (Matth. xiii. 13.) 
It was therefore a just punishment of their pride and wicked 
ingratitude, that they who despised the Son of God, who 
had been familiarly offered to them, never approached to the 
Father. For how shall any mortal man ascend to the height 
of God, unless he be raised on high by the hand of his Son ? 
God in Christ condescended to the mean condition of men, 
so as to stretch out his hand ; and do not those who reject 
God, when he thus approaches to them, deserve to be 
excluded from heaven ? 

Let us know that the same thing is spoken to us all ; for 
whoever aspires to know God, and does not begin with 
Christ, must wander — as it were — in a labyrinth; for it is not 
without good reason that Christ is called the image of the 
Father, as has been already said. Again, as all who, leaving 
Christ, attempt to rise to heaven, after the manner of the 
giants, 1 are destitute of all right knowledge of God, so every 
man who shall direct his mind and all his senses to Christ, 

1 See p. 223, n. 1. 


will be led straight to the Father. For on good ground^ does 
God declare that, by the mirror of the Gospel, we clearly behold 
God in the person of Christ, (2 Cor. iii. 18.) And certainly it 
is an astonishing reward of the obedience of faith, that who- 
soever humbles himself before the Lord Jesus, 1 penetrates 
above all the heavens, even to those mysteries which the 
angels behold and adore. 

20. These words spoke Jesus in the treasury. Tlie treasury 
was a part of the temple where the sacred offerings were laid 
up. It was a much frequented place, and hence we infer 
that this sermon was delivered by Christ amidst a large 
assembly of men, so that the people had less excuse. The 
Evangelist likewise holds out to us the astonishing power of 
God in this respect, that they were constrained to endure 
Christ openly teaching in the temple, though but lately they 
sought to seize him, and put him to death. For since they 
held an undisputed sway in the temple, so that they ruled 
there with the fierceness of tyrants, they might have banished 
Christ from it by a single word. And when he ventured to 
take upon himself the office of a teacher, why do they not 
instantly lay violent hands on him ? We see then that God 
caused men to hear him, and guarded him by his protection, 
so that those savage beasts did not touch him, though they 
had their throats opened to swallow him. 2 The Evangelist 
again mentions his hour, that we may learn that it is not by 
the will of men, but by the will of God, that we live and die. 

21. Jesus therefore spake again to them, I go, and you shall seek me, 
and you shall die in your sin. Whither I go, you cannot come. 22. The 
Jews therefore said, Will he kill himself? Because he saith, Whither I go, 
you cannot come. 23. Then he said to them, You are from beneath, I 
inn from above ; you are of this world, lam not of this world. 24. There- 
fore I said to you, that you shall die in your sins ;Jbr if you do not believe 
that I am, you shall die in your sins. 

21. / go. Perceiving that he is doing no good among 
these obstinate men, he threatens their destruction ; and this 
is the end of all those who reject the Gospel. For it is not 

1 " Quiconque s'humilie devant le Seigneur Jesus." 

a " Combien qu'ils eussent leurs gueules ouvertes pour 1'engloutir." 


thrown uselessly into the air, but must breathe the odour either 
of life or of death, (2 Cor. ii. 16.) The meaning of these words 
amounts to this. "The wicked will at length feel how great loss 
they have suffered by rejecting Christ, when he freely offers 
himself to them. They will feel it, but it will be too late, for 
there will be no more room for repentance." And to alarm them 
still more by showing them that their judgment is near at 
hand, in the first place, he says that he will soon go away, by 
which he means that the Gospel is preached to them only 
for a short time, and that if they allow this opportunity to 
pass away, the accepted time and the days appointedfor salvation 
(Isa. xlix. 8 ; 2 Cor. vi. 2) will not always last. Thus also, 
in the present day, when Christ knocks at our door, we ought 
to go immediately to meet him, lest he be wearied by our sloth- 
fulness and withdraw from us. And indeed we have learned, 
by many experiments in all ages, how greatly this departure 
of Christ is to be dreaded. 

And you shall seek me. We must first ascertain in what man- 
ner the persons now spoken of sought Ch?ist; for if they had 
been truly converted, they would not have sought him in vain ; 
because he has not falsely promised that, as soon as a sinner 
groans, he will be ready to assist him. Christ does not 
mean, therefore, that they sought him by the right way of 
faith, but that they sought him, as men, overwhelmed by the 
extremity of anguish, look for deliverance on every hand. 
For unbelievers would desire to have God reconciled to them, 
but yet they do not cease to fly from him. God calls them; 
the approach consists in faith and repentance; but they oppose 
God by hardness of heart, and, overwhelmed with despair, 
they exclaim against him. In short, they are so far from 
desiring to enjoy the favour of God, that they do not give 
him permission to assist them, unless he deny himself, which 
he Avill never do. 

In this manner, however wicked the scribes were, they 
would willingly have applied to themselves the redemption 
which had been promised by the hand of the Messiah, pro- 
vided that Christ would transform himself, to suit their 
natural disposition. Wherefore, by these words Christ 
threatens and denounces to all unbelievers, that, after having 


despised the doctrine of the Gospel, they will be seized with 
such anguish, that they shall be constrained to cry to God, 
but their howling will be of no avail ; because, as we have 
already said, seeking, they do not seek. And this is still more 
plainly expressed in the next clause, when he says, you shall 
die in your sin ; for he shows that the cause of their destruc- 
tion will be, that they were disobedient and rebellious to the 
very last. What is the nature of their sin we shall pre- 
sently see. 

22. Will he kill himself? The scribes persevere not only 
in fearless scorn, but likewise in effrontery : for they ridicule 
what he had said, that they cannot follow whither he shall go ; 
as if they had said, " If he kill himself, we acknowledge that 
we cannot accompany him, because we do not choose to do 
so." They regarded Christ's absence as a matter of no 
moment, and thought that in all respects they would gain a 
victory over him ; and so they bid him begone wherever he 
pleases. Shocking stupidity ! But thus does Satan infatuate 
the reprobate, that, intoxicated with more than brutal indif- 
ference, 1 they may throw themselves into the midst of the 
flame of the wrath of God. Do we not in the present day 
behold the same rage in many who, having stupified their 
consciences, insolently play off their jests and buffoonery on 
every thing that they hear about the dreadful judgment of 
God? Yet it is certain that this is an affected or sardonic 
smile, for they are pierced inwardly with unseen wounds ; but 
all on a sudden, like men bereft of their senses, they burst 
out into furious laughter. 

3. You are from beneath, I am from above. As they did 
not deserve that he should teach them, he wished only to 
strike them with reproofs conveyed in few words, as in this 
passage he declares that they do not receive his doctrine, 
because they have an utter dislike of the kingdom of God. 
Under the words, world and beneath, he includes all that men 
naturally possess, and thus points out the disagreement which 

1 " Enyvrez d'une stupidite plus que brutalc." 


exists between his Gospel and the ingenuity and sagacity of 
the human mind ; for the Gospel is heavenly wisdom, but 
our mind grovels on the earth. No man, therefore, will ever 
be qualified to become a disciple of Christ, till Christ has 
formed him by his Spirit. And hence it arises that faith is so 
seldom found in the world, because all mankind are naturally 
opposed and averse to Christ, except those whom he elevates 
by the special grace of his Holy Spirit. 

24. You shall die in your sins. Having formerly employed 
the singular number, in your sin, he now resorts to the plural 
number, in your si?is ; but the meaning is the same, except 
that in the former passage he intended to point out that 
unbelief is the source and cause of all evils. Not thai there 
are no other sins but unbelief, 1 or that it is unbelief alone 
which subjects us to the condemnation of eternal death before 
God, as some men too extravagantly talk ; but because it drives 
us away from Christ, and deprives us of his grace, from which 
we ought to expect deliverance from all our sins. That the 
Jews reject the medicine with obstinate malice, is their mor- 
tal disease ; and hence it arises that the slaves of Satan do 
not cease to heap up sins on sins, and continually to bring 
down upon themselves fresh condemnations. And, there- 
fore, he immediately adds, — 

If you do not believe that I am. For there is no other 
way for lost men to recover salvation, but to betake them- 
selves to Christ. The phrase, that I am, is emphatic ; for, 
in order to make the meaning complete, we must supply all 
that the Scripture ascribes to the Messiah, and all that it 
bids us expect from him. But the sum and substance is — 
the restoration of the Church, the commencement of which 
is the light of faith, from which proceed righteousness and a 
new life. Some of the ancient writers have deduced from this 
passage the Divine essence of Christ ; but that is a mistake, 
for he speaks of his office towards us. This statement is 
worthy of observation ; for men never consider sufficiently 
the evils in which they are plunged ; and though they are 

' K Non pas qu'il n'y a point d'autres pechcz que rincredulite." 


constrained to acknowledge their destruction, yet they 
neglect Christ, and look around them, in every direction, for 
useless remedies. Wherefore we ought to believe that, until 
the grace of Christ be manifested to deliver us, nothing but 
a boundless mass of all evils reigns perpetually in us. 1 

25. Then they said to him, Who art thou? Jesus said to them, 
From the beginning, 2 because I also speak to you. 3 26. I have many 
things to speak and judge of you ; but he who hath sent me is true, and I 
speak to the world those things which I have heard from him. 27. They 
knew not that he spoke to them of the Father. Jesus therefore said to 
them, 28. When you shall have exalted the Son of man, then shall you 
know that I am, and that I do nothing of myself ; but as the Father hath 
taught me, I speak. 29. And he who hath sent me is with me. The Father 
hath not left me alone, because I always do the things which please him. 

25. From the beginning. They who translate the words 
ryv H'/j\v-, as if they had been in the nominative case, lam the 
beginning,* and as if Christ were here asserting his eternal 
Divinity, are greatly mistaken. There is no ambiguity of 
this sort in the Greek, but still the Greek commentators also 
differ as to the meaning. All of them, indeed, are agreed 
that a preposition must be understood ; but many give to it 
the force of an adverb, as if Christ had said, " This ought 
first (rriv a^yjiv) to be observed." Some too — among whom is 
Chrysostom — render it continuously thus : The beginning, ivho 
also speak to gou, I have many things to sag and judge of you. 
This meaning has been put into verse by Nonnus. 5 But a 
different reading is more generally adopted, and appears to 
be the true one. I interpret rijv aoyj^, from the beginning ; 

1 " II n'y a qu'un amas infini de tons maux qui regne continuellemeut 
en nous." 

2 " Ou, ce dontje vous parte des le commencement ;" — " or, ivhat I tell you 
from the beginning." 

3 " Ou, comme aussije vous en parte ;" — " or, as also I speak of it to you.'" 

4 Ceux qui traduisent, " Je suis le commencement." 

5 He refers to Nonnus, a Greek writer, who rendered into hexameter 
verse the Gospel by John. The passage stands thus : 

T/f oi> vk'Kiig ; x.ot.1 Xgiorog duict^iv, otti 7t»q vfttu 

Kxl 'hcc\setv. 
Who art thou ? and Christ cried aloud, What (I say) to ycu feom the 
beginning, Itaving an innumerabh. multitude of things to say and judge. So 
far as relates to tjjj/ o.qx'Kv, Nonnus appears to agree with Calvin ; for he 
renders it i| x.qx*IS> from the beginning. — Ed. 


so that the meaning, in my opinion, is this : " I did not arise 
suddenly, but as I was formerly promised, so now I come 
forth publicly." He adds, 

Because I also speak to you ; by which he means that he 
testifies plainly enough who he is, provided that they had 
ears. This word, on, because, is not employed merely to 
assign a reason, as if Christ intended to prove that he was 
from the beginning, because he note spealts ; but he asserts that 
there is such an agreement between his doctrine and the 
eternity which he has spoken of, that it ought to be reckoned 
an undoubted confirmation of it. It may be explained thus : 
" According to the beginning, that is, what I have formerly said, 
I now, as it were, confirm anew ;" or, " And truly Avhat I now 
also speak, is in accordance with the conditions made in all 
ages, so as to be a strong confirmation of it." 

In short, this reply consists of two clauses ; for, under the 
word beginning, he includes an uninterrupted succession of 
ages, during which God had made a covenant with their 
fathers. When he says that he also speaks, he joins his 
doctrine with the ancient predictions, and shows that it 
depends on them. Hence it follows that the Jews had no 
other reason for their ignorance, than that they did not 
believe either the Prophets or the Gospel ; for it is the same 
Christ that is exhibited in all of them. They pretended to 
be disciples of the Prophets, and to look to the eternal 
covenant of God; but still they rejected Christ, who had 
been promised from the beginning, and presented himself 
before them. 

26. I have many things to say and judge of you. Perceiving 
that he is in the position of one who sings to the deaf, he 
pursues his discourse no farther, but only declares that God 
will defend that doctrine, which they despise, because he is 
the Author of it. " If I wished to accuse you," says he, 
" your malice and wickedness supply me with ample materials; 
but I leave you for the present. But my Father, who com- 
mitted to me the office of a teacher, will not fail to fulfil his 
promise ; for he will always vindicate his word against the 
wicked and sacrilegious contempt of men." This saying of 


Christ is of the same import with that of Paul, If ice deny 
him, he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself (2 Tim. ii. 13.) 
In short, he threatens the judgment of God against unbe- 
lievers, who refuse to give credit to his word ; and he does 
so on this ground, that God must inevitably defend his 
truth. Now this is the true firmness of faith, when we 
believe that God is alone sufficient to establish the authority 
of his doctrine, though the world should reject it. All who, 
relying on this doctrine, serve Christ faithfully, may fearlessly 
accuse the whole world of falsehood. 

And I speak to the world those tilings which I have heard from 
him. He says that he utters nothing which he has not re- 
ceived from the Father ; and this is the only confirmation of 
a doctrine, when the minister shows that what he speaks 
has proceeded from the Father. Now we know that Christ 
sustained, at that time, the office of a minister ; and, there- 
fore, we need not wonder, if he demands that men listen to 
him, because he brings to them the commandments of God. 
Besides, by his example he lays down a general law for the 
whole Church, that no man ought to be heard, unless he 
speak from the mouth of God. But while he lays low the 
wicked arrogance of those men who take upon themselves to 
speak without the word of God, faithful teachers, who know 
well the nature of their calling, are fortified and armed by 
him with unshaken firmness, that, under the guidance of 
God, they may boldly bid defiance to all mortals. 

27. They did not know that he spoke to them about the Father. 
Plence we see how stupid those men are whose understand- 
ings are possessed by Satan. Nothing could be more plain 
than that they were summoned to the judgment-seat of God. 
But what then ? They are altogether blind. This happens 
daily to other enemies of the Gospel ; and such blindness 
ought to instruct us to walk with fear. 1 

28. When you shall have exalted the Son of man. Offended 
at that stupidity which the Evangelist has described, Christ 

1 " A cheminer en crainte.'' 


again declares that they do not deserve that he should open 
his mouth to speak to them any more. 1 " You now," says 
he, " have all your senses — as it were — fascinated, and, there- 
fore, you understand nothing of all that I say ; but the time 
will yet come, when you shall know that a Prophet of God 
has lived among you, and has spoken to you." This is the 
manner in which we ought to deal with wicked men ; 2 we 
ou^ht expressly to summon them to the judgment-seat of 
God. But this knowledge, which Christ speaks of, comes 
too late, when the reprobate and unbelievers, 2 dragged to 
punishment, reluctantly acknowledge that God, to whom 
they ought mildly to have given honour and reverence, is 
their Judge. For he does not promise them repentance, but 
declares that, after they have been struck with new and 
unexpressed horror at the wrath of God, they will be aroused 
from that sleep in which they now repose. Thus Adam's 
eyes were opened, so that, overwhelmed with shame, he 
sought in vain for places of concealment, and ultimately was 
convinced that he was ruined. Yet that knowledge of Adam, 
which was in itself useless, turned to his advantage through 
the grace of God; but the reprobate, being overwhelmed 
with despair, have their eyes opened only for this purpose, 
that they may perceive their destruction. To this kind of 
knowledge God conducts them in a variety of ways. Some- 
times it happens that, constrained by heavy afflictions, they 
learn that God is angry with them ; sometimes, without any 
outward punishment, he inwardly torments them ; and, at 
other times, he permits them to sleep until he call them out 
of the world. 

By the term exalt Christ points out his own death. He 
mentions his death, in order to warn them that, though they 
destroy him according to the flesh, they will gain nothing by 
it ; as if he had said, ' ; Now you treat me Avith haughty scorn, 
while I speak to you ; but ere long your wickedness will 
proceed farther, even so far as to put me to death. Then 
will you triumph, as if you had gained your wish, but within 

1 " Qu'il ouvre plus sa bouche pour leur dire rien. 

2 " Les reprouyez et infideles." 


a short time you shall feel, to your utter ruin, how widely 
my death differs from destruction." He employs the word 
exalt, in order to vex them the more. Their intention was 
to plunge Christ into the lowest hell. He tells them that 
they will be completely disappointed, and that the event will 
be altogether contrary to what they thus expect. He may, 
indeed, have intended to allude to the outward form of his 
death, that he was to be lifted up on the cross ; but he looked 
chiefly to the glorious result of it, which soon afterwards fol- 
lowed, contrary to the expectation of all. True, indeed, in 
the cross itself he gained a splendid triumph over Satan, before 
God and the angels, by blotting out the hand-writing of sin, and 
cancelling the condemnation of death, (Col. ii. 14 ;) but it 
was only after that the Gospel had been preached, that this 
triumph began to be made known to men. The same thing 
which happened shortly afterwards — that Christ rose out of 
the grave, and ascended to heaven — is Avhat we ought daily to 
expect; for, notwithstanding all the contrivances of wicked 
men to oppress Christ in his Church, not only will he rise in 
spite of them, but he will turn their wicked efforts into the 
means of promoting the progress of his kingdom. 

That I am. I have already stated that this does not refer 
to Christ's Divine essence, but to his office ; which appears 
still more clearly from what follows, when he affirms that he 
does nothing but by the command of the Father ; for this 
means, that he was sent by God, and that he performs his 
office faithfully. 

And that I do nothing of myself. That is, I do not put 
myself forward, to attempt anything rashly. Again, the 
word speak, refers to the same thing, that is, to the office of 
teaching ; for when Christ wishes to prove that he does no- 
thing but by the commandment of the Father, he says that 
he speaks as he has been taught by Him. The meaning of 
the words, therefore, may be summed up thus : In the whole 
of these proceedings, which you condemn, no part is my 
own, but I only execute what God has enjoined upon me ; 
the words which you hear from my mouth are his words, and 
my calling, of which He is the Author, is directed by him 
alone. Let us remember, however, what I have sometimes 


the capacity of the hearers. For, since they thought that 
Christ was only one of the ordinary rank of men, he asserts 
that whatever in him is Divine is not his own ; meaning that 
it is not of man or by man ; because the Father teaches us 
by him, and appoints him to be the only Teacher of the 
Church ; and for this reason he affirms that he has been taught 
by the Father. 

29. And he icho hath sent me is with me. He again boasts 
that God, under whose guidance and authority he does every 
thing, will assist him, so that he shall not labour in vain and 
to no purpose, as if he had said, that the power of the Spirit 
of God accompanies his ministry. All faithful teachers ought 
to be endued with the same confidence, so as to entertain no 
doubt that the hand of God will be near them, when, with 
a pure conscience, they discharge such a ministry as he 
demands. For God does not furnish them with his word, in 
order that they may strike the air with an idle and useless 
sound, but makes his word successful by the secret efficacy of 
his Spirit, and at the same time guards them by his protec- 
tion, that, when their enemies shall have been subdued, 
they may remain invincible against the whole world. And, 
indeed, if they judge of themselves and their own powers, 
they must give way every hour ; so that the only method of 
pursuing is, to be convinced that they are supported by the 
hand of God. 

Because I do always the things tohich please him. We must 
observe the reason why Christ declares that God is on his 
side, and that he will never be deprived of his assistance. It 
is, because he is regulated entirely by his will, and serves 
him in sincerity. For this is what he means by the word 
ahcays, that he does not obey God only in part, but is entirely 
and unreservedly devoted to his service. Wherefore, if we 
desire to enjoy the same presence of God, our whole reason 
must be subjected to his authority; for if our senses hold 
the government in any degree, all our exertions will be fruit- 
less, because the blessing of God will not be on them. And 


though for a time we may be delighted with the joyful pro- 
spect of success, yet the final result will be dismal. 

The Father hath not left me alone. By these words, he 
indirectly complains of the treachery of his nation, in which 
he found scarcely any that gave him their support. Yet he 
shows that he reckons this alone to be abundantly sufficient, 
that he has God to protect him. Such is the courage with 
which we ought to be animated in the present day, that we 
may not give way on account of the small number of believers; 
for, though the whole world be opposed to his doctrine, still 
we are not alone. Hence, too, it is evident how foolish is the 
boasting of the Papists, who, while they neglect God, proudly 
boast of their vast numbers. 

30. While lie spoke these things, many believed on him. 31. Jesus 
therefore said to the Jews who believed on him, If you continue in my word, 
you shall be truly my disciples. 32. And you shall know the truth, and 
the truth shall make you free. 33. They answered, "We are Abraham's 
seed, and never were enslaved to any one ; how then sayest thou, You 
shall be free ? 34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, That 
every man who committeth sin is the slave of sin. ' 35. And the slave 2 
remaineth not always in the house, but the son remaineth always. 36. 
If the Son then shall make you free, you shall be truly free. 37. I know 
that you are the seed of Abraham, but you seek to kill me, because my 
word dwelleth not in you. 3 38. I speak what I have seen with my Father, 
and you do what you have seen with your father. 

30. While he spoke these things. Though the J-ews, at that 
time, almost resembled a dry and barren soil, yet God did 
not permit the seed of his word to be entirely lost. Thus, 
contrary to all hopes, and amidst so many obstructions, some 
fruit appears. But the Evangelist inaccurately gives the 
name of' faith to that which was only a sort of preparation for 
faith. For he affirms nothing higher concerning them than 

that they Avere disposed to receive the doctrine of Christ, to 
which also the preceding warning refers. 

31. If you continue in my word. Here Christ warns them, 
in the first place, that it is not enough for any one to have 

1 " II est serf de peche." 2 " Le serf. ' 

3 " Pource que ma parole n'a point de lieu en vous ;" — " because my 
word hath no place in you." 


begun well, if their progress to the end do not correspond to 
it ; and for this reason he exhorts to perseverance in the 
faith those who have tasted of his doctrine. When he says 
that they who are firmly rooted in his word, so as to continue 
in him, will truly be his disciples, he means that many profess 
to be disciples who yet are not so in reality, and have no right 
to be accounted such. He distinguishes his followers from 
hypocrites by this mark, that they who falsely boasted of 
faith give way as soon as they have entered into the course, or 
at least in the middle of it ; but believers persevere constantly 
to the end. If, therefore, we wish that Christ should reckon 
us to be his disciples, we must endeavour to persevere. 

32. And you shall know the truth. He says, that they who 
have arrived at some knowledge of it shall know the truth. 
True, those whom Christ addresses were as yet uneducated, 
and scarcely knew the first elements, and therefore we need 
not wonder if he promises them a more full understanding 
of his doctrine. But the statement is general. Wherefore, 
whatever progress any of us have made in the Gospel, let 
him know that he needs new additions. This is the reward 
which Christ bestows on their perseverance, that he admits 
them to greater familiarity with him ; though in this way he 
does nothing more than add another gift to the former, so 
that no man ought to think that he is entitled to any reward. 
If or it is he who impresses his word on our hearts by his 
Spirit, and it is he who daily chases away from our minds 
the clouds of ignorance which obscure the brightness of the 
Gospel. In order that the truth may be fully revealed to us, 
we ought sincerely and earnestly to endeavour to attain it. 
It is the same unvarying truth which Christ teaches his fol- 
lowers from the beginning to the end, but on those who were 
at first enlightened by him, as it were with small sparks, he 
at length pours a full light. Thus believers, until they have 
been fully confirmed, are in some measure ignorant of what 
they know ; and yet it is not so small or obscure a knowledge 
of faith as not to be efficacious for salvation. 

The truth shall make you free. He commends the know- 
ledge of the Gospel from the fruit which we derive from it, 


or — which is the same thing — from its effect, namely, that it 
restores us to freedom. This is an invaluable blessing. 
Hence it follows, that nothing is more excellent or desirable 
than the knowledge of the Gospel. All men feel and acknow- 
ledge that slavery is a very wretched state ; and since the 
Gospel delivers us from it, it follows that we derive from the 
Gospel the treasure of a blessed life. 

We must now ascertain what kind of liberty is here de- 
scribed by Christ, namely, that which sets us free from the 
tyranny of Satan, sin, and death. And if we obtain it by 
means of the Gospel, it is evident from this that we are by 
nature the slaves of sin. Next, we must ascertain what is 
the method of our deliverance. For so long as we are 
governed by our sense and by our natural disposition, we are 
in bondage to sin ; but when the Lord regenerates us by his 
Spirit, he likewise makes us free, so that, loosed from the 
snares of Satan, we willingly obey righteousness. But re- 
generation proceeds from faith, and hence it is evident that 
freedom proceeds from the Gospel. 

Let Papists now go and proudly vaunt of their free-will, 
but let us, who are conscious of our own slavery, glory in 
none but Christ our Deliverer. For the reason why the 
Gospel ought to be reckoned to have achieved our deliver- 
ance is, that it offers and gives us to Christ to be freed from 
the yoke of sin. Lastly, we ought to observe, that freedom 
has its degrees according to the measure of their faith ; and 
therefore Paul, though clearly made free, still groans and longs 
after perfect freedom, (Rom. vii. 24.) 

33. We are Abrahams seed. It is uncertain if the Evan- 
gelist here introduces the same persons who formerly spoke, 1 
or others. My opinion is, that they replied to Christ in a 
confused manner, as usually happens in a promiscuous crowd ; 
and that this reply was made rather by despisers than by 
those who believed. It is a mode of expression very custom- 
ary in Scripture, whenever the body of a people is mentioned, 
to ascribe generally to all what belongs only to a part. 

1 "Ceux-la mesmes parlar.s, qui pavloycnt an para van t." 


Those who object that they are Abraham's seed, and have 
always been free, easily inferred from the words of Christ that 
freedom was promised to them as to people who were slaves. 
But they cannot endure to have it said that they, who are a 
holy and elect people, are reduced to slavery. For of what 
avail was the adoption and the covenant, (Rom. ix. 4,) by which 
they were separated from other nations, but because they 
were accounted the children of God ? They think, therefore, 
that they are insulted, when freedom is exhibited to them as a 
blessing which they do not yet possess. But it might be 
thought strange that they should maintain that they never 
were enslaved, since they had been so frequently oppressed 
by various tyrants, and at that time were subjected to the 
Roman yoke, and groaned under the heaviest burden of 
slavery ; and hence it may be easily seen how foolish was 
their boasting. 

Yet they had this plausible excuse, that the unjust sway 
of their enemies did not hinder them from continuing to be 
free by right. But they erred, first, in this respect, that they 
did not consider that the right of adoption was founded on 
the Mediator alone ; for how comes it that Abraham's seed is 
free, but because, by the extraordinary grace of the Redeemer, 
it is exempted from the general bondage of the human race ? 
But there was another error less tolerable than the former, 
that, though they were altogether degenerate, yet they wished 
to be reckoned among the children of Abraham, and did not 
consider that it is nothing else than the regeneration of the 
Spirit that makes them lawful children of Abraham. And 
indeed, it has been too common a vice in almost all ages, to 
refer to the origin of the flesh the extraordinary gifts of God, 
and to ascribe to nature those remedies which Christ bestows 
for correcting nature. Meanwhile, we see how all who, 
swelled with false confidence, flatter themselves on their con- 
dition drive away from them the grace of Christ. And yet 
this pride is spread over the whole world, so that there is 
scarcely one person in a hundred who feels that he needs the 
grace of God. 

34. Every man who committeth sin is the slave of sin. This 


is an argument drawn from contrary things. They boasted 
that they were free. He proves that they are the slaves of 
sin, because, being enslaved by the desires of the flesh, they 
continually sin. It is astonishing that men are not convinced 
by their own experience, so that, laying aside their pride, 
they may learn to be humble. And it is a very frequent oc- 
currence in the present day, that, the greater the load of vices 
by which a man is weighed down, the more fiercely does he 
utter unmeaning words in extolling free-will. 

Christ appears to say nothing more here than what was 
formerly said by philosophers, that they who are devoted to 
their lusts are subject to the most degrading slavery. But 
there is a deeper and more hidden meaning ; for he does not 
argue what evil men bring on themselves, but what is the 
condition of human nature. The philosophers thought that 
any man is a slave by his own choice, and that by the same 
choice he returns to freedom. But here Christ maintains, 
that all who are not delivered by him are in a state of slavery, 
and that all who derive the contagion of sin from corrupted 
nature are slaves from their birth. "We must attend to the 
comparison between grace and nature, on which Christ here 
dwells ; from which it may be easily seen that men ai-e desti- 
tute of freedom, unless they regain it from some other quar- 
ter. Yet this slavery is voluntary, so that they who neces- 
sarily sin are not compelled to sin. 

35. Now the slave remaineth not in the house always. He 
adds a comparison, taken from the laws and from political 
law, to the effect that a slave, though he may have power for 
a time, yet is not the heir of the house ; from which he infers 
that there is no perfect and durable freedom, but what is ob- 
tained through the Son. In this manner he accuses the Jews 
of vanity, because they hold but a mask instead of the reality ; 
for, as to their being Abraham's offspring^ they were nothing 
but a mask. They held a place in the Church of God, but 
such a place as Ishmael, a slave, rising up against his free- 
horn brother, usurped for a short time, (Gal. iv. 29.) The 
conclusion is, that all who boast of being Abraham* $ children 
have nothing but an empty and deceitful pretence. 


3G. If then the Son shall make you free. By these words he 
means that the right of freedom belongs to himself alone, and 
that all others, being born slaves, cannot be delivered but by 
his grace. For what he possesses as his own by nature he 
imparts to us by adoption, when we are ingrafted by faith 
into his body, and become his members. Thus we ought to 
remember what I said formerly, that the Gospel is the instru- 
ment by which we obtain our freedom. So then our freedom 
is a benefit conferred by Christ, but we obtain it by faith, in 
consequence of which also Christ regenerates us by his Spirit. 
When he says that they shall be truly free, there is an em- 
phasis on the word truly ; for we must supply the contrast 
with the foolish persuasion by which the Jews were swelled 
with pride, in like manner as the greater part of the world 
imagine that they possess a kingdom, while they are in the 
most wretched bondage. 

37. / know that you are Abraham's seed. I explain this as 
said by way of concession. Yet at the same time he ridicules 
their folly in glorying in so absurd a title, as if he had said : 
" Granting that on which you flatter yourselves so much, 
still what avails it that those men are called the children of 
Abraham, who are enraged against God and his ministers, 
and who are actuated by such wicked and detestable hatred 
of the truth, that they rush headlong to shed innocent blood?" 
Hence it follows that nothing is farther from their true char- 
acter than what they wished to be called, because they have 
no resemblance to Abraham. 

You seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. He 
means that they are not merely murderers, but are driven to 
such rage by hatred of God and his truth, which is far more 
heinous ; for such an enormity does not merely extend to 
men, but likewise dishonours God. He says, that they cannot 
receive his icords, because through malice they keep their 
minds shut, so that they cannot admit anything wholesome. 

38. / speak what I have seen with my Father. He had 
already made frequent mention of his Father ; and now, by 
an argument drawn from contrary things, he infers that they 
VOL. I. Y 


are enemies to God, and are the children of the devil, because 
they oppose his doctrine. " For my part," says he, " I bring 
nothing forward, but what I have learned from my Father. 
How comes it then that the word of God excites you to such 
fury, but because you have an opposite father T He says that 
he speaks, and they do, because he discharged the office of a 
teacher, while they laboured strenuously to extinguish his 
doctrine. At the same time, he protects the Gospel against 
contempt, by showing that it is not wonderful if it be opposed 
by the children of the devil. Instead of you do, some render 
it, Do you what you have seen with your father ; as if Christ 
had said, " Come, show that you are the children of the devil, 
by opposing me ; for I speak nothing but what God has com- 

89. They answered, and said to him, Abraham is our father. Jesus 
saith to them, If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works 
of Abraham. 40. But now you seek to kill me, a man who have spoken 
to you the truth which I have heard from God : Abraham did not this. 
41 . You do the works of your father. They said therefore to him, We 
were not born of fornication ; we have one Father, who is God. 42. 
Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me ; for 
I proceeded and came from God, for I did not proceed from myself, but 
he sent me. 

39. Abraham is our father. This altercation shows plainly 
enough how haughtily and fiercely they despised all Christ's 
reproofs. What they continually claim and vaunt of is, that 
they are Abraham's children ; by which they do not simply 
mean that they are the lineal descendants of Abraham, but 
that they are a holy race, the heritage of God, and the children 
of God. And yet they rely on nothing but the confidence 
of the flesh. But carnal descent, without faith, is nothing 
more than a false pretence. We now understand what it 
was that so greatly blinded them, so that they treated Christ 
with disdain, though armed with deadly thunder. Thus the 
word of God, which might move stones, is ridiculed in the 
present day by Papists, as if it were a fable, and fiercely per- 
secuted by fire and sword ; and for no other reason but that 
they rely on their false title of " the Church," and hope that 
they will be able to deceive both God and man. In short, 


as soon as hypocrites have procured some plausible covering, 
they oppose God with hardened obstinacy, as if he could not 
penetrate into their hearts. 

If you were the children of Abraham, you would do the works 
of Abraham. Christ now distinguishes more plainly between 
the bastard and degenerate children of Abraham, and the 
true and lawful children ;* for he refuses to give the very 
name to all who do not resemble Abraham. True, it fre- 
quently happens that children do not resemble, in their con- 
duct, the parents from whom they are sprung; but here 
Christ does not argue about carnal descent, but only affirms 
that they who do not retain by faith the grace of adoption 
are not reckoned among the children of Abraham before God. 
For since God promised to the seed of Abraham that he 
would be their God, saying, / will establish my covenant 
between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, 
for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy 
seed after thee, (Gen. xvii. 7,) all unbelievers, by rejecting this 
promise, excluded themselves from the family of Abraham. 

The state of the question therefore is this : Ought they to 
be accounted Abraham's children who reject the blessing 
offered to them in the word, so that, notwithstanding of this, 
they shall be a holy nation, the heritage of God, and a royal 
priesthood? (Exod. xix. 6; Joel iii. 2.) Christ denies this, 
and justly ; for they who are the children of the promise 
must be born again by the Spirit, and all who desire to obtain 
a place in the kingdom of God ought to be new creatures. 
Carnal descent from Abraham was not indeed useless, and 
of no value, provided that the truth were added to it. For 
election dwells in the seed of Abraham, but it is free, so that 
all whom God sanctifies by his Spirit are accounted heirs of 

40. But now you seek to kill me. He proves from the effect, 
that they are not the children of God, as they boasted, 
because they oppose God. And, indeed, is there any thing 

1 "Entre les enfans d'Abraham qui sont bastars et forligiians, ct le 
vrais ct legitimes." 


in Abraham that is more highly commended than the obe- 
dience of faith ? l This then is the mark of distinction, when- 
ever we are required to distinguish between his children and 
strangers ; for empty titles, whatever estimation they may 
procure before the world, are of no account with God. Christ 
therefore concludes again, that they are the children of the 
devil, because they hate with deadly hatred 2 true and sound 

41. We were not born of fornication. They claim no more 
for themselves than they did formerly, for it was the same 
thing with them to be Abraham's children and to be God's 
children. But they erred grievously in this respect, that they 
imagined that God was bound to the whole seed of Abra- 
ham. For they reason thus : " God adopted for himself the 
family of Abraham ; therefore, since we are Abraham's 
descendants, w r e must be the children of God." We now see 
how they thought that they had holiness from the womb, 
because they were sprung from a holy root. In short, they 
maintain that they are the family of God, because they are 
descended from the holy fathers. In like manner, the Papists 
in the present day are exceedingly vain of an uninterrupted 
succession from the fathers. By sorceries of this description 
Satan deceives them, so that they separate God from his 
word, the Church from faith, and the kingdom of heaven from 
the Spirit. 

Let us know, therefore, that they who have corrupted the 
seed of life are at the farthest remove from- being the children 
of God, though, according to the flesh, they are not bastards, 
but pretend a right to the plausible title of the Church. For 
let them go about the bush as much as they please, still they 
will never avoid the discovery that the only ground of their 
arrogant boasting is, " We have succeeded the holy fathers ; 
therefore, we are the Church." And if the reply of Christ was 
sufficient for confuting the Jews, it is not less sufficient now 
for reproving the Papists. Never indeed will hypocrites cease 

1 " Et de faict, y a-il chose qu'on puisse plustost louer en Abrah 

2 " lis haissent de haine mortellc." 


to employ the name of God falsely, with most wicked effron- 
tery ; but those false grounds of boasting, on which they 
plume themselves, will never cease to appear ridiculous in 
the eyes of all who shall abide by the decision of Christ. 

42. If God were your Father, you would love me. Christ's 
argument is this : " Whoever is a child of God will acknow- 
ledge his first-born Son ; but you hate me, and therefore you 
have no reason to boast, that you are God's children." We 
ought carefully to observe this passage, that there is no piety 
and no fear of God where Christ is rejected. Hypocritical \ *^ 
religion, indeed, presumptuously shelters itself under the 
name of God ; but how can they agree Avith the Father who 
disagree with his only Son ? What kind of knowledge of 
God is that in which his lively image is rejected ? And this 
is Avhat Christ means, when he testifies that he came from 
the Father. 

For I proceeded and came from God. He means that all 
that he has is divine ; and therefore it is most inconsistent 
that the true worshippers of God should fly from his truth 
and righteousness. " I did not come," says he, "of myself. 
You cannot show that anything about me is contrary to 
God. In short, you will find nothing that is either earthly 
or human in my doctrine, or in the whole of my ministry." 
For he does not speak of his essence, but of his office. 

43. Why do you not understand my language, that you cannot hear 
my word ? 44. You are of your father the devil, and you wish to execute 
the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and 
he did not remain in the truth, because there is no truth in him. 45. And 
because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 

43. Why do you not understand my language ? In this pass- 
age, he reproaches the Jews with their obstinacy, which was 
so great, that they could not even endure to hear him speak. 
Hence he infers, that they are actuated and hurried away by 
diabolical rage. Some make a distinction here between lan- 
guage and speech, as if speech had a more extensive meaning ; 
but I do not see it; 1 and besides, it would not be appropriate 

1 " Aucuns font ici dim-rence entre Lanpage et Parole, pource que la 
parole emporte plus, mais je n'v en voy point." 


that the word which means less should be placed first. Many 
point this verse in such a manner as to make the question 
close with the word language ; l as if the question consisted 
only of these words, Whg do you not understand my language f 
So that the reason is immediately assigned, Because you cannot 
hear my word. But I think that it ought rather to be read in 
immediate connection, as if he had said, " What is the reason 
why my speech appears to you barbarous and unknown, so 
that I gain nothing by speaking to you, and so that you do 
not even deign to open your ears to receive what I say ?" In 
the former clause, therefore, he reproves their stupidity ; in 
the latter, he reproves their obstinate and ungovernable 
hatred of his doctrine ; and he afterwards assigns a reason for 
both, when he says, that they are sprung from the devil. For 
by putting the question, he intended to take out of their 
hands what was the subject of their continual boasting, that 
they are led by reason and judgment to oppose him. 

44. You are of your father the devil. What he had twice 
said more obscurely, he now expresses more fully, that they 
are the devil's children. But we must supply the contrast, 
that they could not cherish such intense hatred to the Son of 
God, were it not that they had for their father the perpetual 
enemy of God. He calls them children of the devil, not only 
because they imitate him, but because they are led by his 
instigation to fight against Christ. For as we are called the 
children of God, not only because we resemble him, but be- 
cause he governs us by his Spirit, because Christ lives and is 
vigorous in us, so as to conform us to the image of his Father ; 
so, on the other hand, the devil is said to be the father 01 
those whose understandings he blinds, whose hearts he moves 
to commit all unrighteousness, and on whom, in short, he acts 
powerfully and exercises his tyranny ; as in 2 Cor. iv. 4 ; 
Eph. ii. 2, and in other passages. 

The Manicheans foolishly and ineffectually abused this 
passage to prove their absurd tenets. For since, when 
Scripture calls us the children of God, this does not refer to 

1 il En ce mot Langage." 


the transmission or origin of the substance, but to the grace 
of the Spirit, which regenerates us to newness of life ; so this 
saying of Christ does not relate to the transmission of sub- 
stance, but to the corruption of nature, of which man's revolt 
was the cause and origin. "When men, therefore, are born 
children of the devil, it must not be imputed to creation, but 
to the blame of sin. Now Christ proves this from the effect, 
because they willingly, and of their own accord, are disposed 
to follow the devil. 

IL was a murderer from the beginning. lie explains what 
are those desires, and mentions two instances, cruelty and 
falsehood ; in which the Jews too much resembled Satan. 
When he says that the devil teas a murderer, he means that 
he contrived the destruction of man ; for as soon as man was 
created, Satan, impelled by a wicked desire of doing injury, 
bent his strength to destroy him. Christ does not mean the 
beginning of the creation, as if God implanted in him the dis- 
position to do injury; but he condemns in Satan the corrup- 
tion of nature, which he brought upon himself. This appears 
more clearly from the second clause, in which he says, 

He did not remain in the truth. For though those who 
imagine that the devil was wicked by nature, endeavour to 
make evasions, yet these words plainly state that there was 
a change for the worse, and that the reason why Satan was 
a liar was, that he revolted from the truth. That he is a liar, 
arises not from his nature having been always contrary to 
truth, but because he fell from it by a voluntary fall. This 
description of Satan is highly useful to us, that every person 
for himself may endeavour to beware of his snares, and, at 
the same time, to repel his violence and fury ; for he goeth 
about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he mag devour, (1 Pet. 
v. 8,) and has a thousand stratagems at his command for 
deceiving. So much the more ought believers to be supplied 
with spiritual arms for fighting, and so much the more 
earnestly ought they to keep watch with vigilance and 
sobriety. Now, if Satan cannot lay aside this disposition, 
we ought not to be alarmed at it, as if it were a new and 
uncommon occurrence, when errors exceedingly numerous 
and varied spring up ; for Satan stirs up his followers like 


bellows, to deceive the world by their impostures. And 
we need not wonder that Satan puts forth such strenuous 
efforts to extinguish the light of truth ; for it is the only life 
of the soul. So, then, the most important and most deadly 
wound for killing the soul is falsehood. As all who have eyes 
to see perceive, in the present day, such a picture of Satan 
in Popery, they ought, first, to consider with what enemy 
they carry on war, and, next, to betake themselves to the 
protection of Christ their Captain, under whose banner 
they fight. 

Because the truth is not in him. This statement, which 
immediately follows the other, is a confirmation a posteriori, 
as the phrase is ; that is, it is drawn from the effect. For 
Satan hates the truth, and therefore cannot endure it, but, on 
the contrary, is entirely covered with falsehoods. Hence 
Christ infers, that he is entirely fallen from the truth, and 
entirely turned away from it. Let us not wonder, therefore, 
if he daily exhibits the fruits of his apostacy. 

When he speaketh falsehood. These words are generally 
explained as if Christ affirmed that the blame of falsehood 
does not belong to God, who is the Author of nature, but, on 
the contrary, proceeds from corruption. But I explain it 
more simply, that it is customary with the devil to speak 
falsehood, and that he knows nothing but to contrive corrup- 
tions, frauds, and delusions. And yet we justly infer from 
these words, that the devil has this vice from himself, and 
that, while it is peculiar to him, it may likewise be said to be 
accidental ; for, while Christ makes the devil to be the con- 
triver of lying, he evidently separates him from God, and 
even declares him to be contrary to God. For he is a liar, 
and the father of it. The word father has the same object as 
the preceding statement ; for the reason why Satan is said to 
be the father of falsehood is, because he is estranged from 
God, in whom alone truth dwells, and from whom it flows as 
from the only fountain. 

45. But because I speak the truth. He confirms the pre- 
ceding statement ; for, since they have no other reason for 



opposing, but because truth is hateful and intolerable to the 
they show plainly that they are the children of Satan. 

46. Which of you oonvicteth me of sin? And if I speak truth, why 
do you not believe me ? 17. He who is of God heareth the words of God ; 
you hear them not, because you are not of God. 48. The Jews therefore 

answered, and said to him, Do we not say well, that thou aria Samaritan, 
and hast a devil? 49. Jesus answered, I have not a devil, but I honour 
my Father, and you have dishonoured me. 50. But I seek not my own 
glory | there is one who seeketh it, andjudgeth of it. 1 

46. Which of you ? This question proceeds from perfect 
confidence ; for, knowing that they could not justly bring 
any reproach against him, he glories over his enemies, as 
having obtained a victory. And yet he does not say that he 
is free from their slanders ; for, though they had no reason 
for reproaching, still they did not cease to pour out slanders 
on Christ ; but he means that no crime dwells in him. And 
such is the import of the Greek word IXsy^e/v, as the Latins 
use coaryuere, (to convict,) when a person is held convicted of 
the fact. Which of you convicteth me of sin? Yet those 
who think that Christ here asserts his complete innocence, 
because he alone surpassed all men, so far as he was the Son 
of God, are mistaken. For this defence must be restricted 
to what belongs to the passage, as if he had asserted that 
nothing could be brought forward to show that he Avas not a 
faithful servant of God. In like manner Paul also glories 
that he is not conscious of any crime, (1 Cor. iv. 4 ;) for that 
does not extend to the whole life, but is only a defence of his 
doctrine and apostleship. It is away from the subject, there- 
fore, to speculate, as some do, about the perfection of righte- 
ousness which belongs to the Son of God alone ; since the 
only object which he has in view is, to give authority to his 
ministry, as appears more clearly from what follows ; for he 
again adds immediately afterwards, If I speak truth, why do 
you not believe me ? From which we infer that Christ is rather 
defending his doctrine than his person. 

47. He who is of God. As he has a full right to take this 

1 '* II y a qui la cherche, et qui <n juge." 


for granted, that he is the ambassador of the heavenly Father, 
and that he discharges faithfully the office which has been 
committed to him, he kindles into greater indignation against 
them ; for their impiety was no longer concealed, since they 
were so obstinate in rejecting the word of God. He had 
showed that they could not bring forward any thing which 
he had not taught as from the mouth of God. He concludes, 
therefore, that they have nothing in common with God, for 
they do not hear the words of God j 1 and, without saying 
any thing about himself, he charges them with being at war 
with God. Besides, we are taught by this passage, that 
there is not a more evident sign of a reprobate mind, than 
when one cannot endure the doctrine of Christ, even though, 
in other respects, it shone with angelic sanctity ; as, on the 
contrary, if we embrace that doctrine cheerfully, we have 
what may be called a visible seal of our election. For he 
who has the word enjoys God himself; but he who rejects 
it excludes himself from righteousness and life. Wherefore, 
there is nothing which we ought to fear so much as to fall 
under that dreadful sentence. 

48. Do we not say tvell? They show more and more how 
greatly they are stupified by Satan ; for, though they are fully 
convicted, still they are enraged, and are not ashamed to 
show that they are utterly desperate. 2 Besides, though they 
bring a double reproach against Christ, still they wish to do 
nothing more than to say in a few words, that he is a detest- 
able man, and that he is actuated by a wicked spirit. The 
Jews reckoned the Samaritans to be apostates and corrupters 
of the Law ; and therefore, whenever they wished to stamp 
a man with infamy, they called him a Samaritan. Having 
no crime more heinous, therefore, to reproach Christ with, 
they seize at random, and without judgment, this vulgar 
taunt. To express it in a few words, we see that with effron- 
tery they curse him, as men are wont to do when, infuriated 
like enraged dogs, they cannot find any thing to say. 

1 " lis n'oyent point les paroles de Dieu." 

2 " Neantmoins, ils sont enragez, et n'ont pointe honte de se monstrer 
du tout desesperez." 


49. I have not a devil. He passes by the first charge, and 
clears himself only of the second. Some think that he did 
so, because he disregarded the insult offered to his person, 
and undertook only the defence of the doctrine. But they are 
mistaken, in my opinion ; for it is not probable that the Jews 
were so ingenious in distinguishing between the life and the 
doctrine of the Lord Jesus. 1 Besides, the dislike of this 
name arose, as we have said, from this circumstance, that 
the Samaritans, being perverse and degenerate observers of 
the Law, had debased it by many superstitions and corrup- 
tions, and had polluted the whole worship of God by foreign 
inventions. Augustine flies to allegory, and says that Christ 
did not refuse to be called a Samaritan, because he is a true 
guardian of his flock. But Christ's intention appears to me 
to have been different ; for since the two reproaches cast upon 
him had the same object, by refuting the one, he refutes the 
other ; and, indeed, if the matter be duly considered, they 
insulted him more grievously by calling him a Samaritan 
than by calling him a demoniac. But, as I have already said, 
Christ satisfies himself with a simple refutation, which he 
draws from what is contrary, when he asserts that he labours 
to promote the honour of his Father ; for he who duly and 
sincerely honours him must be guided by the Spirit of God, 
and must be a faithful servant of God. 

You have dishonoured me. This clause may be explained, 
as if it were a complaint of Christ, that he does not receive 
the honour due to him on account of his promoting the glory 
of God. But I think that he looks much higher, and con- 
nects the glory of the Father with his own, in this manner. 
" I claim nothing for myself which does not tend to the glory 
of God ; for his majesty shines in me, his power and autho- 
rity dwells in me ; and therefore, when you treat me so dis- 
dainfully, you pour contempt on God himself." He imme- 
diately adds, therefore, that God will revenge this insult. 
For they might have alleged that he was ambitious, if he had 
not testified that it was not from any personal feelings of a 
carnal nature that he cared about the honour or contempt 

1 " I) ii Seigneur Jesus." 


showed to himself, but so far as the honour or contempt of 
God is concerned. Besides, though we are at a great dis- 
tance from Christ, let every man be fully convinced that, if 
he be sincerely desirous to promote the glory of God, he will 
find that God has secured for him abundant commendation ; 
for we shall always find that saying to be true, Those who 
honour me, I will render honourable, (1 Sam. ii. 30.) If men 
not only despise, but even load him with reproaches, let him 
calmly wait till the day of the Lord come. 

51. Verily, verily, I say to you, If any man keep my word, he 
shall never see death. 52. The Jews said therefore to him, Now we 
know that thou hast the devil. 1 Abraham is dead, and the Prophets, and 
thou sayest, If any man keep my word, he shall never taste of death. 53. 
Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? The Prophets 
also are dead. Whom makest thou thyself? 54. Jesus answered, If I 
glorify myself, my glory is nothing ; it is my Father who glorifieth me, of 
whom you say that he is your God. 55. And you know him not, but I 
know him ; and if I say that I do not know him, I shall be a liar like you ; 
but I know him, and keep his word. 

51. Verily, verily, I say to you. Christ unquestionably 
knew that some persons in that multitude were curable, and 
that others of them -were not opposed to his doctrine. For 
this reason, he intended to terrify the wicked whose malice 
was desperate, but to do so in such a manner as to leave 
ground of consolation for the good, or to draw to him those 
who were not yet ruined. Whatever dislike of the word of 
God, therefore, may be entertained by the greatest part of 
men, yet the faithful teacher ought not to be wholly employed 
in reproving the wicked, but ought also to impart the doc- 
trine of salvation to the children of God, and endeavour to 
bring them to sound views, if there be any of them who are 
not perfectly incurable. In this passage, therefore, Christ 
promises eternal life to his disciples, but demands disciples 
who shall not only prick up their ears, like asses, or profess 
with the mouth that they approve of his doctrine, but who 
shall keep his doctrine as a precious treasure. He says that 
they shall never see death ; for, when faith quickens the soul of 

1 " Que tu as le diable." 


a man, death already has its sting extracted and its venom 
removed, and so cannot inflict a deadly wound. 

52. Now we know. The reprobate persist in their stupidity, 
and are not moved by promises any more than by threaten- 
ings ; so that they can neither be led nor drawn to Christ. 
Some think that they slanderously torture his words, by 
using the expression, taste of death, which Christ had not 
used ; but this appears to me to be groundless. I rather 
think that both of the phrases, to taste of death and to see death, 
were used by the Hebrews in the same sense ; namely, to die. 
But they are false interpreters in this respect, that they apply 
the spiritual doctrine of Christ to the body. No believer 
shall see death, because believers, having been bom again of 
incorruptible seed, (1 Pet. i. 23,) live even when they die ; be- 
cause, united to Christ their Head, they cannot be extin- 
guished by death ; because death is to them a passage into 
the heavenly kingdom ; because the Spirit, dwelling in them, 
is life on account of righteousness, (Rom. viii. 10,) until he 
swallow up all that remains of death. But those men, being 
carnal, cannot perceive any deliverance from death, unless it 
appear manifestly in the body. And it is a disease too com- 
mon in the world, that the greatest part of men care almost 
nothing about the grace of Christ, because they judge of it 
only by their carnal perception. That the same thing may 
not happen to us, we must arouse our minds, that they may 
discern spiritual life in the midst of death. 

53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham ? This is 
another offence, that they endeavour to obscure the glory of 
Christ by the splendour of Abraham and of the saints. But 
as all the stars are thrown into the shade by the bright- 
ness of the sun, so all the glory that is to be found in all the 
saints must fade away before the incomparable brightness of 
Christ. They act unjustly and absurdly, therefore, in con- 
trasting the servants with the Lord; and they even act 
improperly towards Abraham and the Prophets, by abusing 
their name in opposition to Christ. But this wickedness 
has prevailed in almost every age, and prevails even in the 


present day, that wicked men, by mangling the works of God, 
make him appear to be contrary to himself. God glori- 
fied himself by the Apostles and Martyrs ; the Papists frame 
idols for themselves out of the Apostles and Martyrs, that 
they may occupy the place of God ; and do they not, in this 
manner, manufacture engines out of the very favours of God, 
to destroy his power? For how little remains for God or 
for Christ, if the saints have all that the Papists so lavishly 
bestow upon them ! Wherefore, we ought to know that the 
whole order of the Kingdom of God is destroyed, unless 
Prophets, Apostles, and all that can be called Saints, be 
placed far below Christ, that he alone may hold the highest 
rank. And, indeed, we cannot speak of the Saints more 
respectfully than when we place them below Christ. But 
the Papists, though they may deceive the ignorant by boast- 
ing that they are faithful admirers of the Saints, offer an 
insult both to God and to them, because, by assigning to 
them a lofty station, they reduce Christ to a level with them. 
And, indeed, they are doubly in the wrong, because they 
prefer the Saints to Christ in doctrine ; and because, by 
clothing themselves with the spoils of Christ, they deprive 
him of almost all his power. 

54. If I glorify myself. Before replying to that unjust 
comparison, he begins by saying that he does not seek his own 
glory, and thus meets their slander. If it be objected, that 
Christ also glorified himself, the answer is easy, that he did 
so, not as man, but by the direction and authority of God. 
For here, as in many other passages, he distinguishes between 
himself and God, by way of concession. In short, he declares 
that he desires no glory whatever but what has been given 
him by the Father. We are taught by these words that, 
when God glorifies his Son, he will not permit the svorld to 
hate or despise him 1 with impunity. 

Meanwhile, those voices sounding from heaven, Kiss the 
Son, (Ps. ii. 12,) Let all the angels worship him, (Heb. i. 6,) 
Let every knee bow to him, (Philip, ii. 10,) Hear ye him, (Matth. 

1 "• En haine et mespris." 


xvii. 5,) Let the Gentiles seek him, (Rom. xv. 11,) and Let all 
Jlesh be humbled, ought greatly to encourage believers to ren- 
der honour and reverence to Christ. We are also reminded 
by these words, that all the honour which men procure for 
themselves is trivial and worthless. How blind then is ambi- 
tion, when we labour so earnestly about nothing ! Let us con- 
tinually keep before our eyes that saying of Paul, Not he who 
commendeth himself is approved, but whom God commendeth, (2 
Cor. x. 18.) Besides, as we are destitute of the glory of God, 
let us learn to glory in Christ alone, so far as by his grace 
he makes us partakers of his glory. 

Of whom you say that he is your God. He pulls off from 
them the false mask of the name of God which they were ac- 
customed to employ. "Iknow," he says, "howpresumptuously 
you boast that you are the people of God ; but it is a false 
title, for you know not God." Hence also we learn what is the 
true and laAvful 1 profession of faith. It is that which proceeds 
from true knowledge. And whence comes that knowledge, 
but from the word ? Consequently, all who boast of the name 
of God without the word of God are mere liars. Yet to 
their audacity Christ opposes the assurance of his conscience; 
and thus all the servants of God ought to be prepared in their 
hearts to be satisfied with this alone, that God is on their 
side, though the whole world should rise against him. Thus 
anciently the Prophets and Apostles had invincible courage 
and magnanimity, which stood firm against the dreadful 
attacks of the whole world, because they knew by whom they 
were sent. But when solid knowledge of God is wanting, 
there is nothing to support us. 

And if L shall say that I know him. By this clause, Christ 
testifies that the necessity of his office constrains him to 
speak, because silence would be a treacherous denial of the 
truth. This is a remarkable statement, that God reveals 
himself to us for this purpose, that we may confess before 
men the faith which we have in our hearts, when it is need- 
ful. For it ought powerfully to strike terror into our minds, 
that they who act hypocritically to please men, and either deny 

1 " La vraje et legitimo profession." 


the truth of God or disfigure it by wicked glosses, not only- 
are gently reproved, but are sent back to the children of the 

56. Your father Abraham exulted to see my day ; and he saw it and 
rejoiced. 57. The Jews then said to him, Thou art not yet fifty years 
old, and hast thou seen Abraham ? 58. Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, 
I tell you, before Abraham Avas, I am. 59. Then they took up stones to 
throw at him ; but Jesus concealed himself, and went out of the temple. 

56. Your father Abraham. He grants to them, in words 
only, what he formerly took from them, that Abraham is their 
father. But he shows how idle is the objection drawn from 
the name of Abraham. " He had no other object," says he, 
" during his whole life, than to see my kingdom flourish. 
He longed for me when I was absent, you despise me when 
I am present." What Christ here asserts concerning Abra- 
ham alone, applies to all the saints. But this doctrine has 
greater weight in the person of Abraham, because he is the 
father of the whole Church. Whoever then desires to be 
reckoned in the number of the godly, let him rejoice, as he 
ought to do, in the presence of Christ, for which Abraham 
ardently longed. 

Exulted to see my day. The word exult expresses a vehe- 
ment zeal 1 and ardent affection. We must noAv supply the 
contrast. Though the knowledge of Christ was still so 
obscure, Abraham was inflamed by so strong a desire, that 
he preferred the enjoyment of it to everything that was 
reckoned desirable. How base then is the ingratitude of 
those who despise and reject him, when he is plainly offered 
to them ? The word day does not, in this passage, denote 
eternity, (as Augustine thought,) but the time of Christ's 
kingdom, when he appeared in the world clothed with flesh, 
to fulfil the office of Redeemer. 

But a question now arises, How did Abraham behold, even 
with the eyes of faith, the manifestation of Christ ? For this 
appears not to agree with another statement of Christ, 
Many kinys and prophets desired to see the thinys which you see, 
and yet did not see them, (Luke x. 24.) I reply, faith has its 

1 " Un vehement zele." 


degrees in beholding Christ. Thus the ancient prophets 
beheld Christ at a distance, as he had been promised to them, 
and yet were not permitted to behold him present, as he 
made himself familiarly and completely visible, when he came 
down from heaven to men. 

Again, we are taught by these words that, as God did not 
disappoint the desire of Abraham, so he will not now permit 
any one to breathe after Christ, without obtaining some good 
fruit which shall correspond to his holy desire. The reason 
why he does not grant the enjoyment of himself to many is — 
the wickedness of men ; for few desire him. Abrahams joy 
testifies that he regarded the knowledge of the kingdom of 
Christ as an incomparable treasure ; and the reason why we 
are told that he rejoiced to see the day of Christ is, that we 
may know that there was nothing which he valued more 
highly. But all believers receive this fruit from their faith, 
that, being satisfied with Christ alone, in whom they are fully 
and completely happy and blessed, their consciences are calm 
and cheerful. And indeed no man knows Christ aright, 
unless he gives him this honour of relying entirely upon him. 

Others explain it to mean, that Abraham, being already 
dead, enjoyed the presence of Christ, when he appeared to 
the world ; and so they make the time of desiring and the 
time of seeing to be different. And indeed it is true, that the 
coming of Christ was manifested to holy spirits after death, 
of which coming they were held in expectation during the 
whole of their life ; but I do not know if so refined an expo- 
sition agrees with Christ's words. 

57. Thou art not yet fifty years old. They endeavour to 
refute Christ's saying, by showing that he had asserted what 
was impossible, when he who was not yet fifty years of age 
makes himself equal to Abraham, who died many centuries 
before. Though Christ was not yet thirty-four years of age, 
yet they allow him to be somewhat older, that they may not 
appear to be too rigid and exact in dealing with him ; as if 
they had said, " Thou certainly wilt not make thyself so old, 
though thou Avert to boast that thou art already fifty years of 
age." Consequently, those who conjecture that he looked 


older than he actually was, or that the years mentioned in 
this passage are not solar years, in either case labour to no 
purpose. The notion of Papias, who says that Christ lived 
more than forty years, cannot at all be admitted. 

58. Before Abraham was. As unbelievers judge only from 
the appearance of the flesh, Christ reminds them that he has 
something greater and higher than human appearance, which 
is hidden from the senses of the flesh, and is perceived only 
by the eyes of faith ; and that, in this respect, he might be 
seen by the holy fathers, before he was manifested in the 
flesh. But he uses different verbs. Before Abraham was, 1 
or, Before Abraham was born, 2 I am. 3 But by these words 
he excludes himself from the ordinary rank of men, and 
claims for himself a power more than human, 4 a power hea- 
venly and divine, the perception of which reached from the 
beginning of the world through all ages. 

Yet these words may be explained in two ways. Some 
think that this applies simply to the eternal Divinity of 
Christ, and compare it with that passage in the writings of 
Moses, I am what I am, (Exod. iii. 14.) But I extend it much 
farther, because the power and grace of Christ, so far as he 
is the Redeemer of the world, was common to all ages. It 
agrees therefore with that saying of the apostle, Christ yes- 
terday, and to-day, and for ever, (Heb. xiii. 8.) For the con- 
text appears to demand this interpretation. He had formerly 
said that Abraham longed for his day with vehement desire ; 
and as this seemed incredible to the Jews, he adds, that he 
himself also existed at that time. The reason assigned will 
not appear sufficiently strong, if we do not understand that 
he was even then acknowledged to be the Mediator, by whom 
God was to be appeased. And yet the efficacy which be- 
longed, in all ages, to the grace of the Mediator depended 

1 " Avant qu' Abraham fust." 

2 " Priusquam Abraham nasceretur." 

3 w£<!/ ' A)S(>etetft yeuiodtti, iyu i\y,i. Our Author's idea, to 'which lie 
merely alludes, appears to be that, instead of saying, iyu kysvoftqp, 
or, iyu yivopcci, Christ purposely said, lyii ii t ut, because the verb tlu't, 
standing contrasted with ysvtodui, would convey the idea of underivcd 
existence. — Ed. 

4 " Une vertu plus qu'humaine." 


on his eternal Divinity; so that this saying of Christ contains 
a remarkable testimony of his Divine essence. 

We ought also to observe the solemn form of an oath, 
Verily, verily. Nor do I disapprove of the opinion of Chry- 
sostom, that the present tense of the verb is emphatic ; for 
he does not say, / was, but / am ; by which he denotes a 
condition uniformly the same from the beginning to the end. 
And he does not say, Before Abraham was, but, Before Abra- 
ham was made; which implies that Abraham had a beginning. 

59. Then they took up stones. There is reason to believe 
that they did this, as if Christ ought to be stoned according 
to the injunction of the Law, (Lev. xxiv. 16.) Hence we 
infer how great is the madness of inconsiderate zeal; for they 
have no ears to know the cause, but they have hands ready 
to commit murder. I have no doubt that Christ rescued 
himself by his secret power, but yet under the appearance of 
a low condition ; for he did not intend to make a clear dis- 
play of his Divinity without leaving something for human 
infirmity. Some copies have the words, And so Jesus passed 
through the midst of them ; which Erasmus justly considers to 
have been borrowed from the Gospel by Luke, (iv. 30.) It 
deserves notice also, that the wicked priests and scribes, after 
having banished Christ, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the 
Godhead, (Colos. ii. 9,) retain possession of the outward 
temple ; but they are greatly deceived, when they think that 
they have a temple in which God does not dwell. Such is 
the course now pursued by the Pope and his followers. After 
having banished Christ, and in this manner profaned the 
Church, they foolishly glory in the false disguise of a Church. 


1. And Jesus, passing by, saw a man blind from his birth. 2. And his 
disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his pa- 
rents, that he was born blind ? 3. Jesus answered, Neither did this man 
sin, nor his parents ; but that the works of God may be displayed in him. 
4. I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; the night 
Cometh, when no man can work. 5. While I am in the world, I am the, 
light of the world. 


1. Jesus saw a man blind. In this chapter, the Evangelist 
describes the restoration of sight to the blind man, at the 
same time mingling doctrine, to point out the fruit of the 
miracle. From his birth. This circumstance gives an addi- 
tional display of the power of Christ ; for blindness, which he 
had brought from his mother's womb, and which he had en- 
dured till he arrived at the age of a man, could not be cured 
by human remedies. This gave occasion to the disciples to 
propose a question, Of whose sin was this the punishment ? 

2. Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents ? In the 
first place, as Scripture testifies that all the sufferings to 
which the human race is liable proceed from sin, Avhenever 
we see any person wretched, we cannot prevent the thought 
from immediately presenting itself to our minds, that the dis- 
tresses which fall heavily upon him are punishments inflicted 
by the hand of God. But here we commonly err in three 

First, while every man is ready to censure others with ex- 
treme bitterness, there are few who apply to themselves, as 
they ought to do, the same severity. If my brother meets 
with adversity, I instantly acknowledge the judgment of God ; 
but if God chastises me with a heavier stroke, I wink at my 
sins. But in considering punishments, every man ought to 
begin with himself, and to spare himself as little as any other 
person. Wherefore, if we wish to be candid judges in this 
matter, let us learn to be quick in discerning our own evils 
rather than those of others. 

The second error lies in excessive severity ; for no sooner 
is any man touched by the hand of God, than we conclude 
that this shows deadly hatred, and we turn small offences 
into crimes, and almost despair of his salvation. On the con- 
trary, by extenuating our sins, we scarcely think that we 
have committed very small offences, when we have committed 
a very aggravated crime. 

Thirdly, we do wrong in this respect, that we pronounce 
condemnation on all, without exception, whom God visits with 
the cross or with tribulation. 1 What we have lately said is 

1 " Par croix ou tribulation." 


undoubtedly true, that all our distresses arise from sin; but 
God afflicts his own people for various reasons. For as there 
are some men whose crimes he does not punish in this world, 
but whose punishment he delays till the future life, that he 
may inflict on them more dreadful torments ; so he often 
treats his believing people with greater severity, not because 
they have sinned more grievously, but that he may mortify the 
sins of the flesh for the future. Sometimes, too, he does not 
look at their sins, but only tries their obedience, or trains 
them to patience ; as we see that holy Job — a righteous man, 
and one that feareth God, 1 is miserable beyond all other men ; 
and yet it is not on account of his sins that he is sore dis- 
tressed, but the design of God was different, which was, 
that his piety might be more fully ascertained even in adver- 
sity. They are false interpreters, therefore, who say that all 
afflictions, without any distinction, are sent on account of 
sins ; as if the measure of punishments were equal, or as if 
God looked to nothing else in punishing men than to what 
every man deserves. 

"Wherefore, there are two things here that ought to be ob- 
served : that judgment begins, for the most part, at the house of 
God, (1 Pet. iv. 17 ;) and, consequently, that while he passes 
by the wicked, he punishes his own people with severity when 
they have offended, and that, in correcting the sinful actions 
of the Church, his stripes are far more severe. Next, we 
ought to observe that there are various reasons why he afflicts 
men ; for he gave Peter and Paul, not less than the most 
wicked robbers, into the hands of the executioner. Hence 
we infer, that we cannot always put our finger on the causes 
of the punishments which men endure. 

When the disciples, following the common opinion, put the 
question, what kind of sin it was that the God of heaven pun- 
ished, as soon as this man was born, they do not speak so ab- 
surdly as when they ask if he sinned before he was born. And 
yet this question, absurd as it is, was drawn from a common 
opinion which at that time prevailed ; for it is very evident 
from other passages of Scripture, that they believed the trans- 

1 " Hoirnne juste, et craiguant Dieu." 


migration (/iere^u^wtf/s) of which Pythagoras dreamed, or 
that souls passed from one body into another. 1 Hence we 
see that the curiosity of men is an exceedingly deep labyrinth, 
especially when presumption is added to it. They saw that 
some were born lame, some squint-eyed, some entirely blind, 
and some with a deformed body ; but instead of adoring, as 
they ought to have done, the hidden judgments of God, they 
wished to have a manifest reason in his works. Thus through 
their rashness they fell into those childish fooleries, so as to 
think that a soul, when it has completed one life, passes into 
a new body, and there endures the punishment due on ac- 
count of the life which is already past. Nor are the Jews in 
the present day ashamed to proclaim this foolish dream in 
their synagogues, as if it were a revelation from heaven. 

We are taught by this example, that we ought to be 
exceedingly careful not to push our inquiries into the judg- 
ments of God beyond the measure of sobriety, but the 
wanderings and errors of our understanding hurry and plunge 
us into dreadful gulfs. It was truly monstrous, that so gross 
an error should have found a place among the elect people of 
God, in the midst of which the light of heavenly wisdom had 
been kindled by the Law and the Prophets. But if God 
punished so severely their presumption, there is nothing 
better for us, in considering the works of God, than such 
modesty that, when the reason of them is concealed, our 
minds shall break out into admiration, and our tongues shall 
immediately exclaim, " Thou art righteous, O Lord, and thy 
judgments are right, though they cannot be comprehended." 

It is not without reason that the disciples put the question, 
Did his parents sin ? For though the innocent son is not 
punished for his father's fault, but the soul which hath sinned 
shall itself die, (Ezek. xviii. 20,) yet it is not an empty 
threatening, that the Lord throws the crimes of the parents 
into the bosom of the children, and revenges them to the third 
and fourth generation, (Exod. xx. 5.) Thus it frequently 
happens that the anger of God rests on one house for many 
generations ; and, as he blesses the children of believers for 

1 " Que les arues passoyent d'un corps en l'autre." 


the sake of their fathers, so he also rejects a wicked offspring, 
destining the children, by a just punishment, to the same 
ruin with their fathers. Nor can any man complain, on this 
account, that he is unjustly punished on account of the sin of 
another man ; for, where the grace of the Spirit is wanting, 
from bad crows — as the proverb says ' — there must be pro- 
duced bad eggs. This gave reason to the apostles to doubt 
if the Lord punished, in the son, some crime of his parents. 

3. Neither did this man sin, nor his parents. Christ does not 
absolutely say that the blind man, and his parents, were free 
from all blame ; but he declares that we ought not to seek the 
cause of the blindness in sin. And this is what I have already 
said, that God has sometimes another object in view than to 
punish the sins of men, when he sends afflictions to them. 
Consequently, when the causes of afflictions are concealed, 
we ought to restrain curiosity, that we may neither dishonour 
God nor be malicious towards our brethren. Wherefore, 
Christ assigns another reason. This man, he says, was born 
blind, — 

TJiat the. works of God might be manifested in him. He does 
not say a single work, but uses the plural number, zvorks ; for, 
so long as he was blind, there was exhibited in him a proof of 
the severity of God, from which others might learn to fear 
and to humble themselves. It was afterwards followed by the 
benefit of his cure and deliverance, 2 in which the astonish- 
ing goodness of God was strikingly displayed. So then 
Christ intended, by these words, to excite in his disciples the 
expectation of a miracle ; but at the same time reminds them 
in a general manner, that this must be abundantly exhibited 
on the theatre of the world, as the true and lawful cause, 
when God glorifies his name. Nor have men any right to 
complain of God, when he makes them the instruments of 
his glory in both ways, whether he shows himself to be 
merciful or severe. 

4. I must work the works of him who hath sent me. He now 

1 " Comme dit le proverbe." 

2 " Do Ba jmairison et delivrancc." 


testifies that he has been sent for the purpose of manifesting 
the kindness of God in giving sight to the blind man. He 
borrows also a comparison from the ordinary custom of life ; 
for, when the sun is risen, man rises to labour, but the night 
is allotted to repose, as it is said, The sun riseth ; man goctk 
forth to his work, and to his labour, till the evening, (Ps. civ. 
22, 23.) He therefore employs the word Day to denote the 
time which the Father had fixed, during which he must 
finish the icork assigned him ; in the same manner as every 
man who has been called to some public office ought to be 
employed in what may be called his daily task, to perform 
what the nature of his office demands. Hence too we ought 
to deduce a universal rule, that to every man the course of 
his life may be called his day. Wherefore, as the short dura- 
tion of the light ought to excite labourers to industry and 
toil, that the darkness of the night may not come on them 
by surprise, ere their exertions are well begun, so, when we 
see that a short period of life is allotted to us, we ought to 
be ashamed of languishing in idleness. In short, as soon as 
God enlightens us by calling us, we ought to make no delay, 
that the opportunity may not be lost. 

5. While I am in the icorld, I am the light of the world. I 
consider this to have been added, by way of anticipation ; for 
it might have been thought strange that Christ should speak 
of his time of working as limited, as if there were danger that 
the night should come upon him by surprise, as it does on 
other men. Thus, while he makes a distinction between 
himself and others, still he says that his time of working is 
limited. For he compares himself to the sun which, though 
it illuminates the whole earth by its brightness, yet, when it 
sets, takes away the day along with it. In this manner he 
states that his death will resemble the setting of the sun : 
not that his death extinguishes or obscures his light, but that 
it withdraws the view of it from the world. At the same 
time, he shows that, when he was manifested in flesh, that 
was truly the time of the day-light of the world. For though 
God gave light in all ages, yet Christ, by his coming, diffused 
a new and unwonted splendour. Hence he infers that this 


was an exceedingly fit and proper time, and that it might be 
said to be a very bright day, for illustrating the glory of God, 
when God intended to make a more striking exhibition of 
himself in his wonderful works. 

But here arises another question. After the death of 
Christ, the power of God shone more illustriously, both in the 
fruit of the doctrine and in miracles ; and Paul applies this 
strictly to the time of his own preaching, that God, who from 
the beginning of the world commanded the light to shine out of 
darkness, at that time shone in the face of Christ by the Gospel, 
(2 Cor. iv. 6.) And does Christ now give less light to the 
world than when he was in the presence of men, and con- 
versed with them ? I reply, when Christ had finished the 
course of his office, he laboured not less powerfully by his 
ministers than he had laboured by himself, while he lived in 
the world. This I acknowledge to be true; but, first, it is 
not inconsistent with what he had said, that he was bound 
to perform, in his own person, what had been enjoined on 
him by the Father, and at the time when he was manifested 
in the flesh for that purpose. Secondly, it is not inconsistent 
with what he said, that his bodily presence was the true and 
remarkable day of the world, the lustre of Avhich was diffused 
over all ages. For whence did the holy fathers in ancient 
times, or whence do w r e now, desire light and day, but be- 
cause the manifestation of Christ always darted its rays to a 
great distance, so as to form one continued day ? Whence it 
follows, that all who have not Christ for their guide grope in 
the dark like the blind, and wander about in confusion and 
disorder. Yet we must hold by this meaning of the w r ords, 
that, as the sun discovers to our view the lovely spectacle of 
earth and heaven, and the whole arrangement of nature, so 
God has visibly displayed the chief glory of his works in his 

6. Having said this, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spit- 
tle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7. And said 
to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, which, being interpreted, means 
Sent. He went, therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8. Then the 
neighbours, and they who had formerly seen him, and that he was a 
beggar, said, Is not this he who sat and begged ? 9. Some said, This 
is he. And others, He is like him. But he said, I am he. 10. They 


said, therefore, to him, How were thine eyes opened ? 11. He answered 
and said, A man, who is called Jesus, made clay, and anointed mine eyes, 
and said to me, Go into the pool of Siloam, and wash ; and after I had 
gone and washed, I saw. 12. They said, therefore, to him, Where is he? 
He said, I know not. 

6. He spat on the ground. The intention of Christ was, to 
restore sight to the blind man, but he commences the opera- 
tion in a way which appears to be highly absurd ; for, by 
anointing his eyes with clay, he in some respects doubles the 
blindness. Who would not have thought either that he was 
mocking the wretched man, or that he was practising sense- 
less and absurd fooleries ? But in this way he intended to 
try the faith and obedience of the blind man, that he might 
be an example to all. It certainly was no ordinary proof of 
faith, that the blind man, relying on a bare word, is fully con- 
vinced that his sight will be restored to him, and with this 
conviction hastens to go to the place where he was com- 
manded. It is an illustrious commendation of his obedience, 
that he simply obeys Christ, though there are many induce- 
ments to an opposite course. And this is the trial of true 
faith, when the devout mind, satisfied with the simple word 
of God, promises what otherwise appears incredible. Faith 
is instantly followed by a readiness to obey, so that he who 
is convinced that God will be his faithful guide calmly yields 
himself to the direction of God. There can be no doubt that 
some suspicion and fear that he was mocked came into the 
mind of the blind man ; but he found it easy to break through 
every obstruction, when he arrived at the conclusion that it 
was safe to follow Christ. It may be objected that the blind 
man did not know Christ ; and, therefore, could not render 
the honour which was due to him as the Son of God. I 
acknowledge this to be true ; but as he believed that Christ 
had been sent by God, he submits to him, and not doubting 
that he speaks the truth, he beholds in him nothing but 
what is Divine ; and, in addition to all this, his faith is 
entitled to the greater commendation, because, while his 
knowledge was so small, he devoted himself wholly to Christ. 

7. Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. Unquestionably, there 
was not, either in the clay, or in the water of Siloam, any 



power or fitness for curing the eyes ; but Christ freely made 
use of those outward symbols, on various occasions, for adorn- 
ing his miracles, either to accustom believers to the use of 
signs, or to show that all things were at his disposal, or to 
testify that every one of the creatures has as much power as 
he chooses to give them. But some inquire what is meant 
by the clay composed of dust and spittle, and they explain 
it to have been a figure of Christ, because the dust denotes 
the earthly nature of the flesh, and the spittle, which came 
from his mouth, denotes the Divine essence of the Word. 
For my part, I lay aside this allegory as being more inge- 
nious than solid, and am satisfied with this simple view, that 
as man was at first made of clay, so in restoring the eyes 
Christ made use of clay, showing that he had the same power 
over a part of the body which the Father had displayed in 
forming the whole man. Or, perhaps, he intended to declare, 
by this sign, that it was not more difficult for him to remove 
the obstruction, and to open the eyes of the blind man, than 
to wash away clay from any man whatever ; and, on the other 
hand, that it was as much in his power to restore sight to the 
man as it w r as to anoint his eyes with clay. I prefer the latter 

As to the pool of Siloam, he perhaps ordered the blind man 
to wash in it, in order to reprove the Jews for not being able 
to discern the power of God when present; as Isaiah re- 
proaches the men of his time, that they despise the waters of 
Siloam, which flow softly, (Isa. viii. 6,) and prefer rapid and 
impetuous streams. This was also the reason, I think, why 
Elisha ordered Naaman the Syrian to go and wash in Jordan, 
(2 Kings v. 10.) This pool, if we may believe Jerome, was 
formed by waters which flowed at certain hours from Mount 

Winch, if you interpret it, means Sent. The Evangelist pur- 
posely adds the interpretation of the word Siloam ; because 
that fountain, which was near the temple, daily reminded the 
Jews of Christ who was to come, but Avhom they despised 
when he was exhibited before them. The Evangelist, there- 
fore, magnifies the grace of Christ, because he alone enlightens 
our darkness, and restores sight to the blind. For the con- 


dition of our nature is delineated in the person of one man, 
that we are all destitute of light and understanding from the 
Avomb, and that we ought to seek the cure of this evil from* 
Christ alone. 

Let it be observed that, though Christ was present then, 
yet he did not wish to neglect signs ; and that for the sake 
of reproving the stupidity of the nation, which laid aside the 
substance, and retained only an empty shadow of signs. 
Besides, the astonishing goodness of God is displayed in this 
respect, that he comes of his own accord to cure the blind 
man, and does not wait for his prayers to bestow help. And, 
indeed, since we are by nature averse to him, if he do not 
meet us before we call on him, and anticipate by his mercy 
us who are plunged in the forgetfulness of light and life, we 
are ruined. 

8. TJien the neighbours, and those who had formerly seen him. 
The blind man was known not only to the neighbours, but to 
all the inhabitants of the town, having been wont to sit and 
beg at the gate of the temple ; and the common people look 
more readily at such persons than at others. This circum- 
stance — of the man being knoicn — contributed to make many 
people acquainted with the fame of the miracle. But, as 
impiety is ingenious in obscuring the works of God, many 
thought that it was not the same man, because a new power 
of God openly appeared in him. Thus we find that the more 
brightly the majesty of God is displayed in his works, the 
less credit do they obtain among men. But the doubts of 
those men aided in proving the miracle, for, in consequence 
of those doubts, the blind man celebrated more highly the 
grace of Christ by his testimony. It is not without good 
reason, therefore, that the Evangelist brings together all 
those circumstances which seemed to exhibit more clearly 
the truth of the miracle. 

11. And after I had gone and ivashed. So happy a result 
of obedience warns us to surmount every obstacle, and to 
proceed courageously wherever the Lord calls us, and not 
even to entertain a doubt that every thing which we under- 



take by his authority, and under his guidance, will have a 
prosperous issue. 

13. They bring to the Pharisees him who formerly had been blind. 14. 
Now it was the Sabbath when Jesus had made the clay, and opened bis 
eyes. 15. The Pharisees also, therefore, asked him again, how lie had re- 
ceived his sight. And he said to them, He put clay on mine eves, and I 
washed, and I see. 16. Wherefore some of the Pharisees said, This man 
is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath. Others said, How 
can a man who is a sinner do these signs? And there was a division 
among them. 17. They say to him who had been formerly blind, 1 What 
sayest thou of him, for having opened thine eyes? And he said, He is a 

13. They bring to the Pharisees. The following narrative 
shows that wicked men are so far from profiting by the works 
of God, that, the more they are urged by their power, so 
much the more are they constrained to pour out the venom 
which dwells within their breasts. The restoration of sight 
to the blind man ought undoubtedly to have softened even 
hearts of stone ; or, at least, the Pharisees ought to have 
been struck with the novelty and greatness of the miracle, so 
as to remain in doubt for a short time, until they inquired if 
it were a divine work ; but their hatred of Christ drives them 
to such stupidity, that they instantly condemn what they are 
told that he has done. 

The Evangelist mentions the Pharisees; not that other sects 
were favourable to Christ, but because this sect was more 
zealous than the rest in maintaining the present condition. 
Hypocrisy is always proud and cruel. Being swelled with a 
false opinion of their holiness, they were chiefly wounded by 
the doctrine of the Gospel, which condemned all their coun- 
terfeit righteousnesses ; and above all, they fought for their 
power and kingdom, under the pretence of endeavouring to 
maintain the Law. 

When the Evangelist says that the multitude brought the 
blind man to the Pharisees, it is difficult to determine with 
what disposition or with what intention they did so. Scarcely 
an individual among them could then be ignorant of the in- 
veterate hostility of the Pharisees to Christ ; and therefore it 

1 " lis disent derechef a Vaveugle ;" — " they say again to the blind man." 


is possible that many flatterers, in order to obtain their fa- 
vour, purposely attempted to conceal the glory of the miracle. 
Yet I think it is probable that the greater part of the people, 
suspending their judgment, as usually happens, determined to 
refer to the arbitration and decision of those who held the 
government. But wilfully shutting their eyes, while the sun 
is shining, they bring darkness on themselves to obscure its 
light. It is a foolish superstition of the common people that, 
under the pretence of honouring God, they adore the wicked 
tyrants of the Church, and despise God himself, both in his 
word and in his works, or, at least, do not deign to look at 

14. Note it teas the Sabbath. Christ purposely selected the 
Sabbath-day, which must have given ground of offence to the 
Jews. He had already found, in the case of the paralytic, 
that this work was liable to slander. Why then does he not 
avoid the offence — which he could easily have done — but 
because the defence malignantly undertaken by men would 
tend to magnify the power of God ? The Sabbath-day serves 
as a whetstone to sharpen them, to inquire more eagerly into 
the whole matter. And yet what advantage do they reap from 
a careful and earnest examination of the question but this, 
that the truth of the Gospel shines more brightly ? "We are 
taught by this example that, if we would follow Christ, we 
must excite the wrath of the enemies of the Gospel ; and that 
they who endeavour to effect a compromise between the 
world and Christ, so as to condemn every kind of offences, 
are altogether mad, since Christ, on the contrary, knowingly 
and deliberately provoked wicked men. We ought to attend, 
therefore, to the rule which he lays down, that they who are 
blind, and leaders of the blind, (Matth. xv. 14,) ought to be 

15. The Pharisees also ashed him. The people had already 
heard this confession from the mouth of the blind man; and 
now the Pharisees also are made witnesses of it, who mi Hit 
have objected that a report had been groundlessly circulated 
by the common people, anc had been as groundlessly be- 


lieved. And, first, leaving out of view the question as to the 
fact, they dispute only about the law of the case ; for they 
do not deny that Christ restored sight to the blind man, but 
they find a crime in the circumstance of the time when it was 
done, and assert that it is not a work of God, because it vio- 
lated the Sabbath. But we ought first to inquire if a work of 
God was a violation of the Sabbath. And what hinders them 
from seeing this, but that, in consequence of having been 
blinded by sinful motives and by malice, they see nothing ? 
Besides, they had already been abundantly instructed by 
Christ, that the benefits which God bestows on men are 
not more inconsistent with the Sabbath than circumcision ; 
and the words of the Law enjoin men to abstain from their 
own works only, and not from the works of God, (Exod. xx. 
8 ; xxiii. 12.) When they take for granted an error which 
has been so frequently refuted, it must be imputed to obsti- 
nate malice ; or at least there is no other reason why they 
go wrong but because they choose to go wrong. 

Thus the Papists do not cease to bring forward, with har- 
dened effrontery, their idle and foolish slanders, which have 
been answered a hundred times. What, then, must we do 
with them ? When an opportunity occurs, we must endeavour, 
as far as lies in our power, to oppose the wicked attempts of 
those who, actuated by false zeal, reproach and slander the 
gospel. If no defence, however just, shut their mouth, we 
have no reason to be discouraged, but ought to trample under 
foot, with boldness and magnanimity, that eagerness to slan- 
der by which they wish to oppress us. They take up maxims 
which we readily grant to them, that we ought not to listen 
to those who revolt from the Church, and break up the unity 
of the faith. But they pass by, and pretend not to have 
observed — that which ought to form the principal subject of in- 
quiry, and which we have explained clearly in many passages — 
that nothing can be farther removed from the Church than 
the Pope with all his band ; that a medley composed of lies 
and impositions, and stained by so many superstitious inven- 
tions, is widely distant from the purity of faith. But with 
all their furious arrogance, they will never hinder the truth, 
which has been 30 frequently and so firmly maintained by 


us, from being at length successful. In like manner, the 
Pharisees brought against Christ a plausible maxim, That lie 
who does not keep the Sabbath is not from God ; but they un- 
justly and falsely asserted that the work of God is a viola- 
tion of the Sabbath. 

16. How can a man who is a sinner do these things'? The 
word sinner is employed here, as in many other passages, to 

denote a person of immoral conduct and a despiser of God. 

Why doth your Master eat icith publicans and sinners ? (Mark 
ii. 16.) That is, "Why doth your Master eat with men of 
ungodly and wicked lives, whose baseness is stamped with 
universal infamy ?" For from the violation of the Sabbath 
the enemies of Christ inferred that he was a profane person, 
and destitute of all religion. Those who stand neutral and 
judge more candidly, on the other hand, conclude that he is 
a good and religious man, because God has endued him with 
remarkable power to work miracles. And yet the argument 
does not appear to be quite conclusive ; for God sometimes 
permits false prophets to perform some miracles, and we 
know that Satan, like an ape, counterfeits the works of God 
so as to deceive the incautious. 

Suetonius relates that, when Vespasian was in Alexandria, 
and was seated on his tribunal to dispense justice in the open 
court, a blind man requested him to anoint his eyes with spittle, 
and said that one Serapis * had pointed out to him that cure 
in a dream ; that Vespasian, being unwilling to expose him- 
self to contempt without any good reason, was slow and 
reluctant to comply ; but that, when his friends urged him 
on all sides, he granted to the blind man what he asked, and 
that in this way his eyes were instantly opened. Who would 
reckon Vespasian among the servants of God on that account, 
or adorn him with the applause of piety ? I reply, among 
good men and those who fear God, miracles are undoubted 
pledges of the power of the Holy Spirit ; but it happens by 
a just judgment of God, that Satan deceives unbelievers by 
false miracles, as by enchantments. What I have just now 

1 "Uncertain Serapis." 


quoted from Suetonius I do not reckon to be fabulous ; but 
I rather ascribe it to the righteous vengeance of God, that 
the Jews, having despised so many and so illustrious miracles 
of Christ, were at length — as they deserved to be — sent 
away to Satan. For they ought to have profited in the pure 
worship of God by the miracles of Christ ; they ought to have 
been confirmed by them in the doctrine of the Law, and to 
have risen to the Messiah himself, who was the end of the 
Law. And undoubtedly Christ, by giving sight to the blind 
man, had clearly proved that he was the Messiah. 

They who refuse to acknowledge God in his works make 
this refusal, not only through indifference, but through 
malicious contempt; and do they not deserve that God 
should give them up to the delusions of Satan? Let us 
then remember that we ought to seek God Avith a sincere 
disposition of heart, that he may reveal himself to us by the 
power of his Spirit ; and that we ought to lend our ears sub- 
missively to his word, that he may clearly point out true 
prophets by miracles that are not delusive. Thus shall we 
profit, as we ought to do, by miracles, and not be exposed to 
the frauds of Satan. 

As to the men themselves, though they act commendably 
in this respect, that they speak with reverence about the 
miracles in which the power of God is displayed, still they 
do not bring forward a sufficiently strong argument, to prove 
that Christ ought to be reckoned a Prophet of God. And 
even the Evangelist did not intend that their answer should 
be regarded as an oracle. He only exhibits the wicked 
obstinacy of the enemies of Christ, who maliciously pick a 
quarrel with what they cannot but acknowledge to be the 
works of God, and, when warned, do not even attend to them 
for a short time. 

And there was a division among them. A schism is a highly 
pernicious and destructive evil in the Church of God ; and 
how comes it then that Christ sows the occasion of discord 
among the very teachers of the Church ? The answer is 
easy. Christ had no other object in view than to bring all 
men to God the Father, by stretching out his hand to them. 
VOL. I. 2 A 


The division arose from the obstinate malice 1 of those who 
had no disposition to go to God. All who do not yield 
obedience to the truth of God, therefore, rend the Church by 
schism. Yet it is better that men should differ among them- 
selves, than that they should all, with one consent, revolt from 
the true religion. 2 Wherefore, whenever differences arise, we 
ought always to consider their source. 

17. They say to him who had been blind. The more dili- 
gently they inquire, the more impressively does the truth of 
God appear ; for they act as if one Avere endeavouring to 
extinguish a strong flame 3 by his breath. Thus, when we 
see wicked men contrive all that they can to crush the truth 
of God, we have no reason to be afraid, or to be excessively 
anxious about the result, for all that they can gain in this 
way will be to cause its light to burn with greater brightness. 

What sayest thou of him f When they ask the blind man 
what is his opinion, they do so, not because they wish to abide 
by his judgment, or set any value on it, but because they 
hope that the man, struck with fear, will reply according to 
their wish. In this respect the Lord disappoints them ; for 
when a poor man disregards their threatenings, and boldly 
maintains that Christ is a Prophet, we ought justly to ascribe 
it to the grace of God; so that this boldness is another 
miracle. And if he so boldly and freely acknowledged 
Christ to be a Prophet, though he did not as yet know that 
the Lord Jesus 4 was the Son of God, how shameful is the 
treachery of those who, subdued by fear, either deny him, or 
are silent respecting him, though they know that he sitteth 
at the right hand of the Father, and that he will come thence 
to be the Judge of the whole world ! Since this blind man 
did not quench a small spark of knowledge, we ought to 
endeavour that an open and full confession may blaze forth 
from the full brightness which has shone into our hearts. 

18. But the Jews did not believe respecting him, that he had been 
blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him who 

1 " De la malice obstinee." 2 " De la vraye religion." 

3 " Une grande flamme." 4 F Le Seigneur Jesus."' 


had received his sight. 19. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son 
who, you say, was born blind ? How then doth he now see ? 20. His 
parents answered and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was 
born blind. 21. But how he now seeth, we know not ; or who hath opened 
his eyes, we know not ; he is of age, ask him, he will speak of himself. 
22. These things said his parents, because they feared the Jews ; for the 
Jews had already determined that, if any man confessed that he was the 
Christ, he should be thrown out of the synagogue. 23. On this account 
his parents said, He is of age, ask him. 

18. But the Jews did not believe. There are two things here 
which ought to be observed ; that they do not believe that a 
miracle has been performed, and that, being wilfully blinded 
through a perverse, hatred of Christ, they do not perceive 
what is manifest. The Evangelist tells us that they did not 
believe. If the reason be asked, there can be no doubt that 
their blindness was voluntary. For what prevents them from 
seeing an obvious work of God placed before their eyes ; or, 
after having been fully convinced, what prevents them from 
believing what they already know, except that the inward 
malice of their heart keeps their eyes shut ? Paul informs us 
that the same thing takes place in the doctrine of the Gospel ; 
for he says that it is not hidden or obscure, except to the re- 
probate, ichose understandings the god of this world hath blinded, 
(2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.) Warned by such examples, let us learn 
not to bring upon ourselves those obstacles which drive us 
away from the faith. By the Jews, the Evangelist means that 
part of them which held the government of the people. 

IS. Is this your son? Not having succeeded in the former 
way, they now attempt another ; but the Lord not only de- 
feats their attempts in a wonderful manner, but turns them 
even to an opposite purpose. They do not merely put a 
single question, but cunningly put a multitude of questions 
involved in each other, with the view of preventing a reply. 
But out of a variety of entangled and captious questions, the 
parents of the blind man select only the half, to which they 
reply : 

20. We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind. 
Hence it follows that he does not see naturally, but that his 


eyes have been miraculously opened ; but this latter point — 
that his sight had been miraculously restored — they pass by, 
because it would give offence. By their silence they show 
their ingratitude ; for, having received so distinguished a gift 
of God, they ought to have burned with desire to celebrate 
his name. But, struck with terror, they bury the grace of 
God, as far as lies in their power, with this exception, that 
they substitute in their room, as a witness, their son, who will 
explain the whole matter as it happened, and who will be 
heard with less prejudice, and will be more readily believed. 
But though they prudently avoid danger, and continue this 
middle path, of testifying indirectly about Christ by the 
mouth of their son, yet this does not prevent the Holy Spirit 
from condemning their cowardice by the mouth of the Evan- 
gelist, because they fail to discharge their own duty. How 
much less excuse then will they have, who, by treacherous 
denial, utterly bury Christ, with his doctrine, with his mira- 
cles, with his power and grace ! 

22. The Jews had determined. This passage shows that the 
custom of excommunication is ancient, and has been observed 
in all ages ; for excommunication was not then for the first 
time invented, but it was a custom which had been anciently 
used against apostates and despisers of the Law, and was 
turned against the disciples of Christ. We learn, therefore, 
that the practice of excommunication arose out of the most 
ancient discipline of the Church. We learn also that it is a 
crime which has not been of recent origin, and has not been 
peculiar to a single age, that wicked and unbelieving l men 
should corrupt the holy ordinances of God by their deeds of 
sacrilege. God determined, from the beginning of the world, 2 
that there should be some form of correction, by which rebels 
should be restrained. The priests and scribes not only abused 
this power in a tyrannical manner to oppress innocent men ; 
but at length they basely attacked God himself and his doc- 
trine. The truth of Christ being so powerful that they were 
not able to put it down by law, or by a regular course of pro- 

• " Les infideles." 2 " Des le commencement du monde." 


ceedings, they launched the thunders of excommunications 
to crush it. 

The same thing has also been done with the Christian 
people ; for it is impossible to express the barbarous tyranny 
which the pretended bishops have exercised in enslaving the 
people, so that no man dared to whisper ; and now we see 
with what cruelty they throw this dart of excommunication 
against all who worship God. But we ought to believe that 
excommunication, when it is violently applied to a different 
purpose by the passions of men, may safely be treated with 
contempt. For when God committed to his Church the 
power of excommunicating, he did not arm tyrants or execu- 
tioners to strangle souls, but laid down a rule for governing 
his people ; and that on the condition that he should hold 
the supreme government, and that he should have men for 
his ministers. Let the pretended bishops then thunder as 
they think fit, by their empty noises they will not terrify any 
but those who wander about in doubt and uncertainty, not 
having yet been instructed, by the voice of the Chief Shep- 
herd, what is the true fold. 

In short, nothing can be more certain than that those who, 
we see, are not subject to Christ are deprived of the lawful 
power of excommunicating. Nor ought we to dread being 
excluded by them from their assembly, since Christ, who is 
our life and salvation, is banished from it. So far are we 
from having any reason to dread being thrown out, that, on 
the contrary, if we desire to be united to Christ, we must, of 
our own accord, withdraw from the synagogues of Satan. 
Yet though the ordinance of excommunication was so basely 
corrupted in the ancient Church, still Christ did not intend 
that it should be abolished by his coming, but restored it to 
its purity, that it might be in full vigour amongst us. Thus, 
though at the present day there prevails in Popery a base 
profanation of this holy discipline, yet, instead of abolishing 
it, we ought rather to give the utmost diligence to restore it 
to its former completeness. There never will be so good 
order the world, that even the holiest Laws of God shall 
not degenerate into corruption, through the fault of men. 
Assuredly, it would give too much power to Satan, if he could 


reduce to nothing every thing that he corrupts. "We would 
then have no Baptism, no Lord's Supper, and, in short, no 
religion ; for there is no part of it which he has* left unconta- 
minatedby its pollutions. 

24. A second time, therefore, they called the man -who had been blind, 
and said to him, Give glory to God ; we know that this man is a sinner. 
25. Therefore he answered and said, Whether he be a sinner, I know not ' f 
one thing I know, that though I was blind, I now see. 26. Again, there- 
fore, they said to him, What did he to thee ? How did he open thine 
eyes? 27. He answered them, I told you already, and yon did nothear ; 
why do you wish to hear it again ? Do you wish also to beeome his dis- 
ciples ? 28. Then they upbraided him, and said, Be thou his disciple ; as 
for us, 1 we are the disciples of Moses. 29. We know that God spoke to 
Moses ; but as for this man, we do not know whence he is. 30- The man 
answered, and said to them, Certainly this is wonderful, that you do no« 
know whence he is, and yet 2 he hath opened mine eyes. 31. Now we 
know that God heareth not sinners ; but if any man be a worshipper of 
God, and do his will, him he heareth. 32. Never before was it heard 3 
that any man opened the eyes of him who had been born blind. 33. If 
this man were not from God, he could do nothing. 

24. A second time, therefore, they called the man who had 
been blind. There can be no doubt that they were constrained 
by shame to call the blind man, whom they had previously 
found to be too firm and steady. In this way, the more 
fiercely they struggle against God, the more numerous are 
the cords which they put about their neck, 4 and the more 
strongly do they bind themselves. Besides, they put the 
questions in such a manner as to endeavour to make the man 
say what they wish. It is a plausible preface, indeed, when 
they exhort him to give glory to God; but immediately after- 
wards they strictly forbid him to answer according to the 
conviction of his mind ; and therefore, under the pretence of 
the name of God, they demand from him servile obedience. 

Give glory to God. Though this adjuration may be referred 
to what is connected with the present cause, that the blind 
man should not obscure the glory of God by ascribing to man 
the benefit which he had received, yet I rather agree with 
those who think that it was a solemn form, which was wont 
to be employed when an oath was administered to any per- 

1 " Quant a nous." 2 " Et toutcsfois." 3 "II ne fut jamais ouy. 
4 " Tant plus de lags se mettent-ils au col." 


son. For in those very words does Joshua adjure Achan, 
when he wishes to draw from him a true confession of having 
taken away the accursed thing, (Josh. vii. 19.) By these 
words they reminded him that no slight insult is offered to 
God, when any person, in His name, commits falsehood. 
And, indeed, whenever we are called to swear, we ought to 
remember this preface, so that truth may not be less highly 
valued by us than the glory of God. If this were done, 
the sacredness of an oath would be viewed in a very different 
light. Now, since the greater part of men — not considering 
that they deny God, when they invoke His name for uphold- 
ing a falsehood — rashly and daringly rush forward to swear, 
the consequence is, that every place is full of perjuries. 
Meanwhile, we see how hypocrites, though they pretend to 
have the greatest reverence for God, are guilty not only of 
hypocrisy, but of insolent mockery ; for they at the same 
time express a wish that the blind man should wickedly 
swear according to their direction, with open contempt of 
God. Thus God drags to light their wicked designs, what- 
ever attempts they may make to give them a plausible 
appearance, or to conceal them by hypocritical pretences. 

25. Whether he he a sinner, I know not. The blind man 
appears not to have been at all prevented by fear from giving 
a sincere testimony. For there is no reason to believe that 
he had any doubts about Christ, as his words seem to imply ; 
but I rather think that he spoke ironically, in order to Avound 
them more deeply. He had already confessed that Christ 
was a Prophet, (ver. 17.) Perceiving that he gains nothing 
by doing so, he suspends his judgment about the person, and 
brings forward the fact itself, so that, while he makes this 
admission in their favour, he is not free from ridiculing them. 

26. Again, therefore, they said to him. "W hen we see wicked 
men so delighted in performing their own base actions, we 
ought to be ashamed of our slothfulness, in acting with such 
coolness about the affairs of Christ. Though they search on 
all sides to obtain grounds of slander, the Lord defeats their 
attempts, in a remarkable manner, by the unshaken firmness 


of the blind man ; for not only does he persist in his opinion, 
but he freely and severely reproaches them, that after ha vino- 
abundantly ascertained and known the truth, they endeavour 
to bury it by their continual inquiries. He charges them 
also with wicked hatred of Christ, when he says, 

Do you also icish to become his disciples ? For he means 
that, though they were a hundred times convinced, they are 
so strongly prejudiced by wicked and hostile dispositions, 
that they will never yield. It is an astonishing display of 
freedom, when a man of mean and low condition, and espe- 
cially liable to be reproached on account of his poverty, fear- 
lessly provokes the rage of all the priests against himself. If 
that which was nothing more than a small preparation for 
faith gave him so much boldness, when he came to the strug- 
gle, what excuse can be pleaded by great preachers of the 
Gospel, who, though they are beyond the reach of darts, are 
silent as soon as danger is threatened? This question is 
likewise ironical ; for he means that they are prompted by 
malice, and not by a sincere desire of the truth, to press him 
so earnestly to reply as to this fact. 1 

28. Then they upbraided him. It is probable that all the 
reproaches which were prompted by the violence of their 
rage and indignation were eagerly cast upon him ; but there 
was this one reproach among men, that they called him an 
apostate from the Law. For, in their opinion, he could not 
be a disciple of Christ without revolting from the Law of 
Moses; and they expressly represent these two things as 
inconsistent with each other. It is a very plausible pre- 
tence, that they are afraid of revolting from the doctrine 
of Moses. For this is the true rule of piety, that we ought 
to listen to the prophets, by whom w T e certainly know that 
God has spoken ; that our faith may not be carried about by 
any doctrines of men. From this principle they deduce their 
certainty as to the Law of Moses ; but they lie when they 
say that they are the disciples of Moses, for they have turned 
aside from the end of the Law. Thus hypocrites are wont 

1 " Quand ils 1c prcssent si instanimcnt a respondre sur ce faict." 


to tear God in pieces, 1 when they wish to shelter themselves 
under his name. If Christ be the soul of the Law, as Paul 
tells us, (Rom. x. 4,) what will the Law be when separated 
from him, but a dead body ? We are taught by this example, 
that no man truly hears God, unless he be an attentive hearer 
of his word, so as to understand what God means and says. 

29. As for this man, we know not whence he is. When they 
say so, they refer not to his country or the place of his birth, 
but to the prophetical office. For they allege that they have 
no knowledge of his calling, so as to receive him as having 
proceeded from God. 

30. Certainly this is wonderful. He indirectly reproves 
them for remaining unmoved by a miracle so illustrious, and 
for pretending that they did not know Christ's calling; as if 
he had said, that it was highly improper that such a testimony 
of Divine power should be held in no estimation, and that 
the calling of Christ, so proved and attested, should obtain no 
credit among them. And, in order to show more clearly their 
stupidity or malice, he magnifies the excellence of the miracle 
from this consideration, that, as far as the memory of men 
reaches, none was ever heard to say that such a thing was 
done by a man. Hence it follows that they are malicious and 
ungrateful, because they voluntarily shut their eyes on a 
manifest work of God. He infers from this, that Christ was 
sent by God, because he is endued with so great power of 
the Spirit of God, to procure credit for himself and for his 

31 . Now we know that God heareth not sinners. Those who 
think that the man spoke this, in accordance with the opinion 
of the people, are mistaken ; for the word sinner, in this 
passage, as in another which lately occurred, means an ungodly 
and immoral person. It is the uniform doctrine of Scripture, 
that God does not listen to any but those who call upon him 
with truth and sincerity. For while faith alone opens the 

1 " De 'Icschircr Dieu par pieces." 


door to us to go to God, it is certain that all wicked men are 
excluded from approaching to him ; and he even declares[that 
he detests their prayers, (Prov. xxviii. 9,) as he abhors their 
sacrifices, (Prov. xv. 8.) It is by a special privilege that he 
invites his children to himself ; and it is the Spirit of adoption 
alone that crieth out in our hearts, Abba, Father, (Rom. viii. 15 ; 
Gal. iv. 6.) In short, no man is properly disposed toipray to 
God, unless his heart be purified by faith. But wicked men 
profane the sacred name of God by their prayers, and there- 
fore they deserve rather to be punished for this sacrilege, 
than to obtain any thing for salvation. Accordingly, the 
blind man does not reason inconclusively, that Christ has 
come from God, because God lends a favourable ear to his 

34. They answered, and said to him, Thou wast altogether born in 
sins, and dost thou teach us ? And they cast him out. 35. Jesus heard 
that they had cast him out, and having found him, he said to him, Dost 
thou beheve in the Son of God ? 36. He answered and said, Who is he, 
Lord, that I should believe in him ? 37. And Jesus said to him, Thou hast 
both seen him, and it is he who talketh with thee. 38. And he said, 
Lord, I beheve ; and he worshipped him. 39. Then Jesus said, For 
judgment am I come into this world, that they who see not may see, 
and that they who see may become blind. 40. Some of the Pharisees, 
who were with him, heard these things, and said to him, And are we 
blind also ? 41. Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would 
not have sin ; 1 but now you say, We see : therefore your sin remaineth. 

34. Thou wast altogether born in sins. They alluded, I 
doubt not, to his blindness ; as proud men are wont to teaze 
those who have any distress or calamity ; and, therefore, they 
continually insult him, as if he had come out of his mother's 
womb, bearing the mark of his sins. For all the scribes 
were convinced in their hearts, that souls, after having 
finished one life, entered into new bodies, and there suffered 
the punishment of their former crimes. Hence they con- 
clude that he who was born blind was, at that very time, 
covered and polluted by his sins. 

This undeserved censure ought to instruct us to be exceed- 
ingly cautious, not always to estimate the sins of any person 

1 " Vous n'auriez point de peche ;" — " you would have no sin." 


by the chastisements of God ; for, as we have already seen, 
God has various ends to accomplish, by inflicting calamities 
on men. But not only do those hypocrites insult the 
wretched man ; they likewise reject disdainfully his warnings, 
though they are holy and good ; as indeed it very frequently 
happens that one cannot endure to be taught by him whom 
he despises. Now, since we ought always to hear God, by 
whomsoever he may talk to us, let us learn not to despise any 
man, that God may find us always mild and submissive, even 
though he employ a person altogether mean and despicable to 
instruct us. For there is not a more dangerous plague than 
when pride stops our ears, so that we do not deign to hear 
those who warn us for our profit ; and it frequently happens 
that God purposely selects vile and worthless persons to 
instruct and warn us, in order to subdue our pride. 

And they cast him out. Though it is possible that those 
haughty Kabbis * cast him, with violence, out of the temple, 
yet I think that the Evangelist has a different meaning, that 
they excommunicated him ; and thus the casting of him out would 
have the semblance of law. This agrees better also with what 
follows ; for if they had only cast him out in a disdainful and 
furious manner, it would not have been of so great import- 
ance as to make it probable that the report of it would reach 

35. Jesus heard that they had cast him out. From this cir- 
cumstance I conjecture that they proceeded to it in a solemn 
manner, as an affair of great importance, By this example, 
we are taught how trivial and how little to be dreaded are 
the excommunications of the enemies of Christ. If we are 
cast out from that assembly in which Christ reigns, it is a 
dreadful judgment which is executed against us, that we are 
delivered to Satan, (1 Cor. v. 5,) because we are banished 
from the kingdom of the Son of God. But so far are we 
from having any reason to dread that tyrannical judgment by 
which wicked men insult the servants of Christ, that, even 
though no man should drive us out, we ought of our own 

1 " Ces Rabbins onmeilleux." 


accord to flee from that place in which Christ does not pre- 
side by his word and Spirit. 

And having found him. If he had been allowed to remain 
in the synagogue, he would have been in danger of becoming 
gradually alienated from Christ, and plunged in the same de- 
struction with wicked men. Christ now meets him, when he 
is no longer in the temple, but wandering hither and hither ; 
receives and embraces him, when he is cast out by the priests; 
raises him up from the ground, and offers to him life, when 
he has received the sentence of death. We have known the 
same thing by experience in our own time; for when Dr 
Martin Luther, 1 and other persons of the same class, were 
beginning to reprove the grosser abuses of the Pope, they 
scarcely had the slightest relish for pure Christianity ; but 
after that the Pope had thundered against them, and cast them 
out of the Roman synagogue by terrific bulls, Christ stretched 
out his hand, and made himself fully known to them. So 
there is nothing better for us than to be at a very great dis- 
tance from the enemies of the Gospel, that Christ may ap- 
proach nearer to us. 

Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He speaks to a Jew, 
who had been from his infancy instructed in the doctrine of 
the Law, and had learned that God had promised the Mes- 
siah. This question, therefore, has the same meaning as if 
Christ had exhorted him to follow the Messiah and to devote 
himself to him ; though he employs a more honourable name 
than they were wont at that time to employ, for the Messiah 
was reckoned to be only the son of David, (Matth. xxii. 42.) 

36. Who is he, Lord, that 1 may believe in him? From this 
reply of the blind man it is evident that, though he had not 
yet attained any clear or certain knowledge of Christ, still 
he was obedient and ready to receive instruction ; for these 
words mean, " As soon as he is pointed out to me, I am ready 
to embrace him." But it ought to be observed that the blind 
man desires to be instructed by Christ as a Prophet ; for he 
was already convinced that Christ had been sent by God, 
and therefore he does not at random place reliance on his 

1 " Lc Doctcur Martin Luther." 


37. Thou hast both seen him. By these words of Christ the 
blind man could not be carried higher than to a very small 
and cold portion of faith. For Christ does not mention his 
power, or the reason why he was sent by the Father, or what 
he has brought to men. But what principally belongs to faith 
is, to know that, by the sacrifice of his death, atonement has 
been made for our sins, and we are reconciled to God ; that 
his resurrection was a triumph over vanquished death ; that 
we are renewed by his Spirit, in order that, being dead to 
the flesh and to sin, we may live to righteousness ; that he is 
the only Mediator; that the Spirit is the earnest of our adop- 
tion ; in short, that in him is found every thing that belongs 
to eternal life. But the Evangelist either does not relate the 
whole of the conversation which Christ held with him, or he 
only means that the blind man professed his attachment to 
Christ, so that henceforth he began to be one of his disciples. 
For my own part, I have no doubt that Jesus intended to be 
acknowledged by him as the Christ, that from this beginning 
of faith he might afterwards lead him forward to a more inti- 
mate knowledge of himself. 

38. And he worshipped him. It may be asked, Did the blind 
man honour or worship Christ as God? 1 The word which 
the Evangelist employs (^oasKw^n) means nothing more 
than to express respect and homage by bending the knee, or 
by other signs. For my own part, certainly, I think that it 
denotes something rare and uncommon ; namely, that the 
blind man gave far more honour to Christ than to an ordinary 
man, or even to a prophet. And yet I do not think that at 
that time he had made such progress as to know that Christ 
was God manifested in the flesh. What then is meant by 
worship ? The blind man, convinced that Jesus was the Son 
of God, nearly lost the command of himself, and, in rapturous 
admiration, bowed down before him. 

39. For judgment am I come into this world. The word 
judgment cannot be understood, in this passage, to denote 
simply the punishment which is inflicted on unbelievers, 2 and 

1 " Si l'aveugle a honore ou adord Christ comme Dieu." 

* " Anx infideles." 


on those who despise God; for it is made to include the 
grace of illumination. Christ, therefore, calls it judgment, 
because he restores to proper order what was disordered and 
confused ; but he means that this is done by a wonderful 
purpose of God, and contrary to the ordinary opinion of men. 
And, indeed, human reason considers nothing to be more un- 
reasonable than to say, that they who see are made blind by the 
light of the world. This then is one of the secret judgments 
of God, by which he casts down the pride of men. It ought 
to be observed, that the blindness which is here mentioned, 
does not proceed so much from Christ as from the fault 
of men. For, by its own nature, it does not strictly blind 
any man, but as there is nothing which the reprobate desire 
more earnestly than to extinguish its light, the eyes of their 
mind, which are diseased through malice and depravity, must 
be dazzled by the light which is exhibited to them. In short, 
since Christ is, by his own nature, the light of the world, 
(John viii. 12,) it is an accidental result, that some are made 
blind by his coming. 

But again it may be asked, Since all are universally 
accused of bl'mdness, who are they that see ? I reply, this is 
spoken ironically by way of concession, because unbelievers, 
though they are blind, think that their sight is uncommonly 
acute and powerful ; and elated by this confidence, they do 
not deign to listen to God. Besides, out of Christ the 
wisdom of the flesh has a very fair appearance, because the 
world does not understand what it is to be truly wise. So 
then, they see, says our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 who, deceiving 
themselves and others under a foolish confidence in their 
wisdom, are guided by their own opinion, and reckon their 
vain imaginations to be great wisdom. 2 Such persons, as 
soon as Christ appears in the brightness of his Gospel, are 
made blind ; not only because their folly, which was formerly 
concealed amidst the darkness of unbelief, is now discovered, 
but because, being plunged in deeper darkness by the 
righteous vengeance of God, they lose that small remnant of 
I know not what light which they formerly possessed. 

1 " Ceux voyent, dit nostre Seigneur Jesus Christ." 
3 " Pour une gr&nde s&gesse." 


It is true that we are all born blind, but still, amidst the 
darkness of corrupted and depraved nature, some sparks con- 
tinue to shine, so that men differ from brute beasts. Now, 
if any man, elated by proud confidence in his own opinion, 
refuses to submit to God, he will seem — apart from Christ — 
to be wise, but the brightness of Christ will strike him with 
dismay ; for never does the vanity of the human mind begin 
to be discovered, until heavenly wisdom is brought into view. 
But Christ intended, as I have already suggested, to express 
something more by these words. For hypocrites do not so 
obstinately resist God before Christ shines ; but as soon as 
the light is brought near them, then do they, in open war, 
and — as it were, with unfurled banner, 1 — rise up against God. 
It is in consequence of this depravity and ingratitude, there- 
fore, that they become doubly bli?id, and that God, in 
righteous vengeance, entirely puts out their eyes, which were 
formerly destitute of the true light. 

We now perceive the amount of what is stated in this 
passage, that Christ came into the world to give sight to the 
blind, and to drive to madness those who think that they are 
wise. In the first part of it, he mentions illumination, that 
they who see not may see ; because this is strictly the cause of 
his coming, for he did not come to judge the world, but rather 
to save that which was lost, (Matth. xviii. 11.) In like manner 
Paul, when he declares that he has vengeance prepared against 
all rebels, at the same time adds, that this punishment will 
take place after that believers shall have fulfilled their obedience, 
(2 Cor. x. 6.) And this vengeance ought not to be limited 
to the person of Christ, as if he did not perform the same 
thing daily by the ministers of his Gospel. 

We ought to be the more careful that none of us, through 
a foolish and extravagant opinion of his wisdom, draw down 
upon himself this dreadful punishment. But experience shows 
us the truth of this statement which Christ uttered ; for we 
see many persons struck with giddiness and rage, for no other 
reason but because they cannot endure the rising of the Sun 
of righteousness. Adam lived, and was endued with the true 

1 " Et comme & enseigne desployee." 


light of understanding, while he lost that divine blessing by 
desiring to see more than was allowed him. Now if, while 
we are plunged in blindness and thus humbled by the Lord, 
we still flatter ourselves in our darkness, and oppose our mad 
views to heavenly wisdom, we need not wonder if the ven- 
geance of God fall heavily upon us, so that we are rendered 
doubly blind. This very punishment was formerly inflicted 
on the wicked and unbelievers 1 under the Law ; for Isaiah is 
sent to blind the ancient people, that seeing they may not see : 
blind the heart of this people, and shut their ears, (Isa. vi. 9.) 
But in proportion as the brightness of the divine light is 
more fully displayed in Christ than in the Prophets, so much 
the more remarkably must this example of blindness have 
been manifested and perceived ; as even now the noon-day 
light of the Gospel drives hypocrites to extreme rage. 

40. Some of the Pharisees heard. They instantly perceived 
that they were smitten by this saying of Christ, and yet they 
appear not to have belonged to the worst class ; for the open 
enemies had so strong an abhorrence of Christ that they did 
not at all associate with him. But those men submitted to 
listen to Christ, yet without any advantage, for no man is 
qualified to be a disciple of Christ, until he has been divested 
of self, and they were very far from being so. 

Are we also blind ? This question arose from indignation, 
because they thought that they were insulted by being classed 
with blind men ; and, at the same time, it shows a haughty 
contempt of the grace of Christ accompanied by mockery, as 
if they had said, " Thou canst not rise to reputation without 
involving us in disgrace ; and is it to be endured that thou 
shouldst obtain honour for thyself by upbraiding us? As to the 
promise thou makest of giving new light to the blind, go hence 
and leave us with thy benefit ; for we do not choose to receive 
sight from thee on the condition of admitting that we have 
been hitherto blind. ,, Hence we perceive that hypocrisy has 
always been full of pride and of venom. The pride is mani- 
fested by their being satisfied with themselves, and refusing 

' " Les medians et infiileles." 


to have any thing taken from them ; and the venom, by their 
being enraged at Christ and arguing with him, because he 
has pointed out their wound, as if he had inflicted on them a 
grievous wound. Hence arises contempt of Christ and of the 
grace which he offers to them. 

The word also is emphatic ; for it means that, though all 
the rest be blind, still it is improper that they should be 
reckoned as belonging to the ordinary rank. It is too com- 
mon a fault among those who are distinguished above others, 
that they are intoxicated with pride, and almost forget that 
they are men. 

41. If you ivere blind. These words may be explained in 
two ways ; either, that ignorance would, in some degree, alle- 
viate their guilt, if they were not fully convinced, and did 
not deliberately fight against the truth ; or, that there was 
reason to hope that their disease of ignorance might be cured, 
if they would only acknowledge it. The former view is sup- 
ported by the words of Christ, If I had not come and spoken 
to them, they would have no sin, (John xv. 22.) But as it is 
added in this passage, but now you say you see, in order that 
the points of contrast may correspond to each other, it ap- 
pears to be more consistent to explain them to mean, that he 
is blind who, aware of his own blindness, seeks a remedy to 
cure his disease. 1 In this way the meaning will be, " If you 
would acknowledge your disease, it would not be altogether 
incurable ; but now because you think that you are in perfect 
health, you continue in a desperate state." When he says 
that they who are blind have no sin, this does not excuse igno- 
rance, as if it were harmless, and were placed beyond the 
reach of condemnation. He only means that the disease may 
easily be cured, when it is truly felt ; because, when a blind 
man is desirous to obtain deliverance, God is ready to assist 
him ; but they who, insensible to their diseases, despise the 
grace of God, are incurable. 

1 " Pour guairir son mal."' 

VOL. I. 2 II 



1. Verily, verily, I say to you, He who entereth not by the door into the 
sheepfold, but climbeth by another way, is a thief and a robber. 2. But 
he who entereth by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3. To him the 
porter openeth, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his own sheep 
by name, and leadeth them out. 4. And having put out his own sheep, 
he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him ; for they know his voice. 
5. But they will not follow a stranger, but will flee from him ; for they 
know not the voice of strangers. 6. Jesus spoke this parable to them ; 
but they did not understand what those things were which he spoke to 

1. Verily, verily, I say to you. As Christ had to do with 
scribes and priests, who were reckoned pastors of the Church, 
it was necessary that they should be divested of the honour 
of this title, if he wished his doctrine to be received. The 
small number of believers might also diminish greatly the 
authority of his doctrine. He therefore contends that we 
ought not to reckon, in the number of shepherds or of sheep, 
all who outwardly claim a place in the Church. But we shall 
never be able, by means of this mark, to distinguish the law- 
ful shepherds from the reprobate, and the true sheep from the 
counterfeit, if all have the same object, and beginning, and 

This warning has been highly useful in all ages, and in the 
present day it is especially necessary. No plague is more 
destructive to the Church, than Avhen wolves ravage under 
the garb of shej)herds. We know also how grievous an offence 
it is, when bastard or degenerate Israelites pretend to be the 
sons of the Church, and, on this pretence, insult believers. 
But in the present day, there is nothing by which weak and 
ignorant persons are more alarmed, than when they see the 
sanctuary of God occupied by the greatest enemies of the 
Church ; for it is not easy to make them understand, that it 
is the doctrine of Christ which the shepherds of the Church 
so fiercely resist. Besides, as the greater part of men are led 
into various errors by false doctrines, while the views and 
expectations of each person are directed to others, scarcely 


any person permits himself to be conducted into the right 

We must therefore, above all things, guard against being 
deceived by pretended shepherds or counterfeit sheep, if wc do 
not choose, of our own accord, to expose ourselves to wolves 
and thieves. The name of " The Church" is highly honourable, 
and justly so ; but the greater the reverence which it de- 
serves, so much the more careful and attentive ought we to 
be in marking the distinction between true and false doctrine. 
Christ here declares openly, that wc ought not to reckon as 
shepherds all who boast of being such, and that we ought not 
to reckon as sheep all who boast of outward marks. He 
speaks of the Jewish Church, but what he says applies equally 
well to our own. We ought also to consider his purpose and 
design, that weak consciences may not be alarmed or dis- 
couraged, when they perceive that they who rule in the 
Church, instead of pastors or shepherds, are hostile or opposed 
to the Gospel ; and that they may not turn aside from the 
faith, because they have few fellow-disciples, in listening to 
Christ, among those who are called Christians. 

He ivho entereth not by the door. It is useless, I think, to 
scrutinize too closely every part of this parable. Let us rest 
satisfied with this general view, that, as Christ states a re- 
semblance between the Church and a sheep/old, in which God 
assembles all his people, so he compares himself to a door, 
because there is no other entrance into the Church but by 
himself. Hence it follows that they alone are good sheplierds 
who lead men straight to Christ ; and that they are truly 
gathered into the fold of Christ, so as to belong to his flock, 
who devote themselves to Christ alone. 

But all this relates to doctrine ; for, since all the treasures 
oficisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ, (Col. ii. 3,) he 
who turns aside from him to go elsewhere neither keeps the 
road nor enters by the door. Now, whoever shall not despise 
Christ or his instructor will easily rid himself of that hesita- 
tion which keeps so many in a state of perplexity, what is 
the Church, and who are they to whom we ought to listen as 
shepherds. For if they who are called shepherds attempt to 
lead us away from Christ, we ought to flee from them, at the 


command of Christ, as we would flee from wolves or thieves ; 
and we ought not to form or maintain intercourse with any 
society but that which is agreed in the pure faith of the 
Gospel. For this reason Christ exhorts his disciples to 
separate themselves from the unbelieving multitude of the 
whole nation, not to suffer themselves to be governed by 
wicked priests, and not to allow themselves to be imposed 
upon by proud and empty names. 

3. To him the porter openeth. If by the word Porter^ any 
one choose to understand God, I do not object ; and Christ 
even appears expressly to contrast the judgment of God with 
the false opinion of men in approving of pastors, as if he had 
said, " There are others, indeed, whom the world generally 
applauds, and on whom it willingly confers honour ; but 
God, who holds the reins of government, does not acknow- 
ledge or approve of any but those who lead the sheep by this 

He calleth his own sheep by name. I consider this as re- 
ferring to the mutual consent of faith ; because the disciple 
and the teacher are united together by the one Spirit of God, 
so that the teacher goes before, and the disciple follows. Some 
think that it denotes the intimate knowledge which every 
shepherd ought to have of each of his flock, but I do not know 
if this rests on solid grounds. 

4. Because they know his voice. Though he speaks here of 
ministers, yet, instead of wishing that they should be heard, 
he wishes that God should be heard speaking by them ; for 
we must attend to the distinction which he has laid down, 
that he alone is a faithful pastor or shepherd 2 of the Church, 
who conducts and governs his sheep by the direction of 
Christ. We must attend to the reason why it is said that 
the sheep follow ; it is, because they knoiv how to distinguish 

1 " Si par ce mot de Portier." 

2 The word pastor signifies shepherd, but, for the sake of the reader, 
who may not be aware of its etymology, it has been found necessary, in 
some cases, to employ both of the words, especially where the figure holds 
so prominent a place in the discussion. — Ed. 


shepherds from wolves by the voice. This is the spirit of dis- 
cernment, by which the elect discriminate between the truth 
of God and the false inventions of men. So then, in the sheep 
of Christ a knowledge of the truth goes before, and next 
follows an earnest desire to obey, so that they not only 
understand what is true, but receive it Avith warm affection. 
And not only does he commend the obedience of the faith, 
because the sheep assemble submissively at the voice of the 
shepherd, but also because they do not listen to the voice of 
strangers, and do not disperse when any one cries to them. 

6. This parable. This is the reason why, proudly vaunt- 
ing of their wisdom, they rejected the light of Christ ; for in 
a matter not very obscure they are exceedingly dull of ap- 

But they did not understand what things they were which he 
spoke to them. In this clause the Greek manuscripts differ. 
Some copies might be literally rendered, they did not under- 
stand what he said. Another reading, which I have followed, 
is more full, though it amounts to the same meaning. The 
third reading is, that they did not know that he who spoke of 
himself toas the Son of God; but this is not much approved. 

7. And Jesus again said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, that I am 
the door of the sheep. 8. All who have entered before me are thieves and 
robbers ; but the sheep did not hear them. &. I am the door. If any 
man enter by me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find 
pasture. 10. The thief cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to de- 
stroy ; I am come, that they may have life, and that they may have it more 

7. I am the door. If this explanation had not been added, 
the whole discourse would have been allegorical. He now 
explains more clearly what was the chief part of the parable 
when he declares that he is the door. The amount of what is 
stated is, that the principal point of all spiritual doctrine, on 
which souls are fed, consists in Christ. Hence also Paul, one 
of the shepherds, says : I reckon nothing to be icorth knowing but 
Jesus Christ, (1 Cor. ii. 2.) And this mode of expression 
conveys the same meaning as if Christ had testified that to 
him alone we must all be gathered together. Therefore, he 


invokes and exhorts all who desire salvation to come to him. 
By these words, he means that in vain do they wander about 
who leave him to go to God, because there is but one open 
door, and all approach in any other way is prohibited. 

8. All who came before me. The words vdvng foot may be 
literally rendered, ALL, as many as came before me. They 
who restrict this expression to Judas the Galilean, and such 
persons, depart widely, in my opinion, from Christ's mean- 
ing ; for he contrasts all false doctrine, in general, with the 
Gospel, and all false prophets with faithful teachers. 
Nor would it even be unreasonable to extend this statement 
to the Gentiles, that all who, from the beginning of the 
world, have professed to be teachers, and have not laboured 
to gather sheep to Christ, have abused this title for destroy- 
ing souls. But this does not at all apply to Moses and the 
Prophets, who had no other object in view than to establish 
the kingdom of Christ. For it ought to be observed, that a 
contrast is here made between the words of Christ and those 
things which are opposed to them. But so far are we from 
discovering any contradiction between the Law and the doc- 
trine of the Gospel, that the Law is nothing else than a pre- 
paration for the Gospel. In short, Christ testifies that all 
the doctrines, by which the world has been led away from 
him, are so many deadly plagues ; because, apart from him, 
there is nothing but destruction and horrible confusion. 
Meanwhile, we see of what importance antiquity is with God, 
and in what estimation it ought to be held by us, when it 
enters, as it were, into a contest with Christ. That no man 
may be moved by the consideration, that there have been 
teachers, in all ages, who gave themselves no concern Avhat- 
ever about directing men to Christ, Christ expressly states 
that it is of no consequence how many there have been of 
this description, or how early they began to appear ; for it 
ought to be considered that there is but one door, and that 
they who leave it, and make openings or breaches in the walls, 
are thieves. 

Bat the sheep did not hear them. He now confirms more 
clearly what he had already spoken more obscurely and in 
the figure of an allegory, that they who were led out of the 


way by impostors did not belong to the Church of God. This 
is said, first,, that when we see a great multitude of persons 
going astray, we may not resolve to perish through their exam- 
ple; and, next, that we may not waver, Avhen God permits im- 
postors to deceive many. For it is no light consolation, and 
no small ground of confidence, when we know that Christ, by 
his faithful protection, has always guarded his sheep, amidst 
the various attacks and crafty devices of wolves and robbers, 
so that there never was one of them that deserted him. 1 

But here a question arises, When does a person begin to 
belong to the flock of the Son of God ? 2 For we see many 
who stray and wander through deserts during the greater 
part of their life, and are at length brought into the fold of 
Christ. I reply, the word sheep is here used in two ways. 
When Christ says afterwards, that he has other sheep besides, 
he includes all the elect of God, who had at that time no 
resemblance to sheep. At present, he means sheep which 
bore the shepherd's mark. By nature, we are at the greatest 
possible distance from being sheep ; but, on the contrary, are 
born lions, tigers, wolves, and bears, 3 until the Spirit of 
Christ tames us, and from wild and savage beasts forms us 
to be mild sheep. Thus, according to the secret election of 
God, we arc already sheep in his heart, before we are born ; 
but we begin to be sheep in ourselves by the calling, by which 
he gathers us into his fold. Christ declares that they who 
are called into the order of believers are so firmly bound 
together, that they cannot stray or wander, or be carried 
about by any wind of new doctrine. 

It will perhaps be objected, that even those who had been 
devoted to Christ frequently go astray, and that this is proved 
by frequent experience, and that it is not without good reason 
that Ezekiel ascribes it to the good Shepherd, that he gathers 
the scattered sheep, (Ezek. xxxiv. 12.) I readily acknowledge 
that it frequently happens, that they who had belonged to 
the household of faith are, for a time, estranged ; but this is 
not at variance with Christ's statement, for, so far as they go 
astray, they cease, in some respects, to be sheep. What 

1 " En sorte qu'il n'y en a pas ea line seule qui l'ait laisse." 

a '' Du troupeau du Fils de Dieu." 3 " Lions, tygres, loups, et ours.'* 


Christ means is simply this, that all the elect of God, though 
they were tempted to go astray in innumerable ways, were 
kept in obedience to the pure faith, so that they were not 
exposed as a prey to Satan, or to his ministers. But this 
work of God is not less astonishing, when he again gathers 
the sheep which had wandered for a little, than if they had 
all along continued to be shut up in the fold. It is always 
true, and without a single exception, that they who go out 
from us were not of us, but that they who were of us remain with 
us to the end, (1 John ii. 19.) 

This passage ought to strike us with the deepest shame ; 
first, because we are so ill accustomed to the voice of our 
Shepherd, that there are hardly any who do not listen to it 
with indifference ; and, next, because we are so slow and 
indolent to follow him. I speak of the good, or of those who 
are at least passable ; for the greater part of those who boast 
that they are Christ's disciples kick fiercely against him. 
Lastly, as soon as the voice of any stranger has sounded in 
our ears, we are hurried to and fro ; and this lightness and 
unsteadiness sufficiently shows how little progress we have 
hitherto made in the faith. But if the number of believers 
is smaller than might be desired, and if out of this small 
number a large proportion be continually dropping off, faith- 
ful teachers have this consolation to support them, that the 
elect of God, who are Christ's sheep, listen to them. It is 
our duty, indeed, to labour diligently, and to strive by every 
possible method, that the whole world may be brought, if 
possible, into the unity of the faith ; but let us, in the mean- 
time, be well satisfied with belonging to the number. 

9. If any man enter by me. The highest consolation of 
believers is, that when they have once embraced Christ, they 
learn that they are out of danger; for Christ promises to 
them salvation and happiness. He afterwards divides it into 
two parts. 

He shall go in and out, and find pasture. First, they shall go 
safely wherever they find necessary ; and, next, they shall be 
fed to the full. By going in and out, Scripture often denotes 
all the actions of the life, as we say in French, aller et venir, 


(to go and come,) 1 which means, to dicell. These words, 
therefore, present to ns a twofold advantage of the Gospel, 
that our souls shall find pasture in it, which otherwise become 
faint and famished, and are fed with nothing but wind ; and, 
next, because he will faithfully protect and guard us against 
the attacks of wolves and robbers. 

10. The thief 'cometh not. By this saying, Christ — if we may 
use the expression — pulls our ear, that the ministers of Satan 
may not come upon us by surprise, when we are in a drowsy 
and careless state ; for our excessive indifference exposes us, 
on every side, to false doctrines. For whence arises credulity 
so great, that they who ought to have remained fixed in 
Christ, fly about in a multitude of errors, but because they 
do not sufficiently dread or guard against so many false 
teachers ? And not only so, but our insatiable curiosity is 
so delighted with the new and strange inventions of men, 
that, of our own accord, we rush with mad career to meet 
thieves and wolves. Not without reason, therefore, does 
Christ testify that false teachers, whatever may be the mild- 
ness and plausibility of their demeanour, always carry about 
a deadly poison, that we may be more careful to drive them 
away from us. A similar warning is given by Paul, See that 
no man ROB you through vain philosophy, (Coloss. ii. 8.) 

/ am come. This is a different comparison ; for Christ, 
having hitherto called himself the door, and declared that 
they who bring sheep to this door are true shepherds, now 
assumes the character of a shepherd, and indeed affirms that 
he is the only shepherd. Indeed, there is no other to whom 
this honour and title strictly belongs ; for, as to all the faith- 
ful shepherds of the Church, it is he who raises them up, 
endows them with the necessary qualifications, governs them 
by his Spirit, and works by them ; and therefore they do not 
prevent him from being the only Governor of his Church, or 
from holding the distinction of being- the only Shepherd. For, 
though he employs their ministry, still he does not cease to 

1 A phrase in Scottish law, denoting a full right to occupy a house or 
any property, is, free ish (issue) and entrance, or, in other words, a right 
to go out and to come in, as the occupant pleases. — Ed. 


fulfil and discharge the office of a shepherd hy his own power ; 
and they are masters and teachers in such a manner as not to 
interfere with his authority as a Master. In short, when the 
term shepherd is applied to men, it is used, as we say, in a 
subordinate sense ; and Christ shares the honour with his 
ministers in such a manner, that he still continues to be the 
only shepherd both of themselves and of the whole flock. 

That they may have life. When he says that he is come., that 
the sheep may have life, he means that they only who do not 
submit to his staff and crook (Psalm xxiii. 4) are exposed to 
the ravages of wolves and thieves ; and — to give them greater 
confidence — he declares that life is continually increased and 
strengthened in those who do not revolt from him. And, 
indeed, the greater progress that any man makes in faith, the 
more nearly does he approach to fulness of life, because the 
Spirit, who is life, grows in him. 

11. I am the good shepherd ; the good shepherd giveth his life for the 
sheep. 12. But the hireling, and he who is not the shepherd, whose own 
the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and 
fleeth, and the wolf teareth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13. The hire- 
ling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14. I 
am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known bv mine. 15. 
As the Father knoweth me, I also know the Father, and I lay down my 
life for the sheep. 

11. The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. From 
the extraordinary affection which he bears towards the sheep, 
he shows how truly he acts towards them as a shepherd; for he 
is so anxious about their salvation, that he does not even 
spare his own life. Hence it follows, that they who reject 
the guardianship of so kind and amiable a shepherd are ex- 
ceedingly ungrateful, and deserve a hundred deaths, and are 
exposed to every kind of harm. The remark of Augustine 
is exceedingly just, that this passage informs us what we 
ought to desire, what we ought to avoid, and what we ought 
to endure, in the government of the Church. Nothing is 
more desirable than that the Church should be governed by 
good and diligent shepherds. Christ declares that he is the 
good shepherd, who keeps his Church safe and sound, first, bv 
himself, and, next, by his agents. Whenever there is good 


hold the government, then Christ shows 
that he is actually the shepherd. But there are many wolves 
and thieves who, wearing the garb of shepherds, wickedly 
scatter the Church. Whatever name such persons may as- 
sume, Christ threatens that we must avoid them. 

12. But the hireling. By hirelings we are to understand 
those who retain the pure doctrine, and who proclaim the 
truth, as Paul says, to serve a purpose rather than from pure 
zeal. Though such persons do not serve Christ faithfully, 
yet we ought to hear them ; for Christ wished that the Plia- 
risees should be heard, because they sat in Moses 1 seat, (Matth. 
xxiii. 2 ;) and, in like manner, we ought to give such honour 
to the Gospel, as not to shrink from its ministers, though 
they be not good men. And as even the slightest offences 
render the Gospel distasteful to us, that w r e may not be hin- 
dered by such false delicacy, let us always remember what I 
have formerly suggested, that if the Spirit of Christ does 
not operate so powerfully in ministers, as to make it plainly 
evident that he is their shepherd, we suffer the punishment of 
our sins, and yet our obedience is proved. 

And he who is not the shepherd. Though Christ claims for 
himself alone the name of a shepherd, yet he indirectly states 
that, in some respects,, he holds it in common with the agents 
by w T hom he acts. For we know that there have been many, 
since the time of Christ, who did not hesitate to shed their 
blood for the salvation of the Church ; and even the prophets, 
before his coming, did not spare their own life. But in his own 
person he holds out a perfect example, so as to lay down a 
rule for his ministers. For how base and shameful is our 
indolence, if our life is more dear to us than the salvation of 
the Church, which Christ preferred to his own life ! 

"What is here said about laying down life for the sheep, may 
be viewed as an undoubted and principal mark of paternal 
affection. Christ intended, first, to demonstrate what a re- 
markable proof he gave of his love toward us, and, next, to 
excite all his ministers to imitate his example. Yet we must 
attend to the difference between them and him. lie laid 
down his life as the price of satisfaction, shed his blood to 


cleanse our souls, offered his body as a propitiatory sacrifice, 
to reconcile the Father to us. Nothing of all this can exist 
in the ministers of the Gospel, all of whom need to be cleansed, 
and receive atonement and reconciliation to God by that 
single sacrifice. But Christ does not argue here about the 
efficacy or benefit of his death, so as to compare himself to 
others, but to prove with what zeal and affection l he is moved 
towards us, and, next, to invite others to follow his example. 
In short, as it belongs exclusively to Christ to procure life 
for us by his death, and to fulfil all that is contained in the 
Gospel, so it is the universal duty of all pastors or shepherds, 
to defend the doctrine which they proclaim, even at the ex- 
pense of their life, and to seal the doctrine of the Gospel with 
their blood, and to show that it is not in vain that they teach 
that Christ has procured salvation for themselves and for 

But here a question may be put. Ought we to reckon 
that man a hireling, who, for any reason whatever, shrinks 
from encountering the wolves ? This was anciently debated 
as a practical question, when tyrants raged cruelly against 
the Church. Tertullian, and others of the same class, were, 
in my opinion, too rigid on this point. I prefer greatly the 
moderation of Augustine, who allows pastors to flee, on the 
condition that, by their flight, they contribute more to the 
public safety than they would do by betraying the flock com- 
mitted to their charge. And he shows that this is done, 
when the Church is not deprived of well-qualified ministers, 
and when the life of the pastor in particular is so eagerly 
sought, that his absence mitigates the rage of enemies. But 
it the flock — as well as the pastor — be in danger, 2 and if there 
be reason to believe that the pastor flees, not so much from 
a desire to promote the public advantage as from a dread of 
dying, Augustine contends that this is not at all lawful, be- 
cause the example of his flight will do more injury than his 
life can do good in future. The reader may consult the 
Epistle to Bishop Honoratus, (Ep. cviii.) On this ground it 

1 " De quel zele et affection." 

2 " Que s'il y a danger aussi bien pour les brebis que pour la personne 
du pasteur." 


was lawful for Cyprian to flee, who was so far from shudder- 
ing at death, that he nobly refused to accept the offer of 
saving his life by a treacherous denial of his Master. Only, 
it must be held that a pastor ought to prefer his flock, or 
even a single sheep, to his own life. 

Whose own the sheep are not. Christ appears here to make 
all shepherds besides himself to be, without exception, hirelings; 
for, since he alone is shepherd, none of us have a right to say 
that the sheep which he feeds are his own. But let us re- 
member that they who are guided by the Spirit of God reckon 
that to be their own which belongs to their Head ; and that 
not in order to claim power for themselves, but to keep faith- 
fully what has been committed to their charge. For he who 
is truly united to Christ will never cease to take an interest 
in that which He valued so highly. This is what he after- 
wards says : « 

13. The hireling fleeth. The reason is, because he careth not 
for the sheep, which means, that his heart is not moved by the 
scattering of the flock, because he thinks that it does not at 
all belong to him. For he who looks to the hire, and not to 
the flock, though he may deceive others, when the Church is 
in a state of tranquillity, yet when he comes into the contest, 
will give proof of his treachery. 

14. And I knoio my sheep, and am known by mine. In the 
former clause, he again holds out his love towards us ; for 
knoidedge proceeds from love, and is accompanied by care. 
But it means also that he utterly disregards all who do not 
obey the Gospel, as he repeats in the second clause, and con- 
firms what he had formerly said, that — on the other hand — 
he is known by the sheep. 

15. As the Father knoivcth me. It is unnecessary, and is 
not even expedient, that we should enter into those thorny 
questions, How is it that the Father knows his Wisdom ? 
For Christ simply declares that, so far as he is the bond of 
our union with God, he is placed between Him and us ; as if 
he had said, that it is no more possible for him to forget us, 


than that he should be rejected or disregarded by the Father. 
At the same time, he demands the duty which we mutually 
owe to him, because, as he employs all the power which he 
has received from the Father for our protection, so he wishes 
that we should be obedient and devoted to him, as he is 
wholly devoted to his Father, and refers everything to him. 

16. And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold : them also I 
must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and 
one shepherd. 17. On this account the Father loveth me, because I lay 
down my life, that I may take it again. 18. No man taketh it from me, 
but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it clown, and I have 
power to take it again. This commandment have I received from my 

16. And I have other sheep. Though some refer this indis- 
criminately to all, both Jews and Gentiles, who were not yet 
disciples of Christ, yet I have no doubt that he had in his 
eye the calling of the Gentiles. For he gives the appella- 
tion fold to the assemblage of the ancient people, by which 
they were separated from the other nations of the world, and 
united into one body as the heritage of God. The Jews had 
been adopted by God in such a manner, that he surrounded 
them with certain enclosures, which consisted of rites and 
ceremonies, that they might not be confounded with unbe- 
lievers, though the door of the fold was the gracious covenant 
of eternal life confirmed in Christ. For this reason he calls 
those sheep which had not the same mark, but belonged to a 
different class, other sheep. In short, the meaning is, that the 
pastoral office of Christ is not confined within the limits of 
Judea, but is far more extensive. 

Augustine's observation on this passage is undoubtedly 
true, that, as there are many wolves within the Church, so 
there are many sheep without. But this is not applicable, in 
every respect, to the present passage, which relates to the 
outward aspect of the Church, because the Gentiles, who had 
been strangers for a time, were afterwards invited into the 
kingdom of God, along with the Jews. Yet I acknowledge 
that Augustine's statement applies in this respect, that Christ 
gives the name of sheep to unbelievers, who in themselves 
were the farthest possible from being entitled to be called 


sheep. And not only docs he point out, by this term, what 
they will be, but rather refers this to the secret election of 
God, because we are already God's sheep, before we are aware 
that lie is our shepherd. In like manner, it is elsewhere 
said that we were enemies, when he loved us, (Rom. v. 10;) 
and for this reason Paul also says that we were known by God, 
before rce knew him, (Gal. iv. 9.) 

Them also I must bring. He means that the election of 
God will be secure, so that nothing of all that he wishes to 
be saved shall perish. 1 For the secret purpose of God, by 
which men were ordained to life, is at length manifested in 
his own time by the calling, — the effectual calling, when he 
regenerates by his Spirit, to be his sons, those who formerly 
were begotten of flesh and blood. 

But it may be asked, How were the Gentiles brought to 
be associated with the Jews ? For the Jews were not under 
the necessity of rejecting the covenant which God made with 
their fathers, in order to become Christ's disciples ; and the 
Gentiles, on the other hand, were not under the necessity of 
submitting to the yoke of the Law, that, being ingrafted in 
Christ, they might be associated with the Jews. Here we 
must attend to the distinction between the substance of the 
covenant and the outward appendages. For the Gentiles 
could not assent to the faith of Christ in any other way than 
by embracing that everlasting covenant on which the salva- 
tion of the world was founded. In this manner were fulfilled 
the predictions, Strangers shall speak the language of Canaan, 
(Isa. xix. 18.) Again, Ten men of the Gentiles shall take hold 
of the cloak of one Jew, and say, We will go with you, (Zech. 
viii. 23.) Again, Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and 
let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, (Isa. ii. 4; Mic. iv. 2.) 
Abraham was also called a father of many nations, (Gen. xvii. 
5; Rom. iv. 17,) because they shall come from the East and 
from the West, who shall sit doicn xoith him in the kingdom oj 
God, (Matth. viii. 11.) As to ceremonies, they are the middle 
tcall of partition, which, Paul informs us, hath been thrown 
down, (Eph. ii. 14.) Thus, we have been associated with 

1 " Rien de tout ce qu'il vent estre sauvd." 


the Jews in the unity of the faith, as to the substance ; and 
the ceremonies were abolished, that there might be nothing 
to prevent the Jews from stretching out their hand to us. 

And there shall be onefold 1 and one shepherd. That is, that 
all the children of God may be gathered and united 2 into 
one body ; as we acknowledge that there is one holy univer- 
sal Church, 3 and there must be one body with one head. 
There is one God, says Paul, one faith, one baptism. Therefore 
we ought to be one, as we are called into one hope, (Eph. iv. 4, 5.) 
Now though this flock appears to be divided into different 
folds, yet they are kept within enclosures which are common 
to all believers who are scattered throughout the whole 
world ; because the same word is preached to all, they use 
the same sacraments, they have the same order of prayer, 
and every thing that belongs to the profession of faith. 

And they shall hear my voice. We must observe the way in 
which the flock of God is gathered. It is, when all have one 
shepherd, and when his voice alone 4 is heard. These words 
mean that, when the Church submits to Christ alone, and 
obeys his commands, and hears his voice and his doctrine, 5 
then only is it in a state of good order. If Papists can show 
us that there is any thing of this sort among them, let them 
enjoy the title of The Church, of which they vaunt so much. 
But if Christ is silent there, if his majesty is trodden under 
foot, if his sacred ordinances are held up to scorn, what else 
is their unity but a diabolical conspiracy, which is worse and 
far more to be abhorred than any dispersion ? Let us there- 
fore remember that we ought always to begin with the Head. 
Hence also the Prophets, when they describe the restoration 
of the Church, always join David the king with God ; as if 
they said, that there is no Church where Christ does not 
reign, and that there is no kingdom of God, but where the 
honour of shepherd is granted to Christ. 

1 So it runs in the French version, " Et il y aura tine bcrgerie et un 
Pasteur.'" But in the Latin original, our Author, either through choice or 
inadvertency, has altered the translation, by substituting grex (flock) for 
ovile, (fold.) " Etfiet vnus grex;'" — " and there shall be one flock." — Ed. 

2 " Assemblez et unis." 3 " Une saincte Eglise universelle. 
4 " Sa voix seule." 6 " Sa voix et sa doctrine.'' 


17. On this account the Father lovcth me. There is, indeed, 
another and a higher reason why the Father lovetk the Son ; 
for it was not in vain that a voice was heard from heaven, 
77//* is my beloved Son, in whom the goocl-j)leasure of God dwells, 
(Matth. iii. 17 ; xvii. 5.) But as he was made man on our 
account, and as the Father delighted in him, in order that he 
might reconcile us to himself, we need not wonder if he 
declares it to be the reason why the Father loveth him, that our 
salvation is clearer to him than his own life. This is a won- 
derful commendation of the goodness of God to us, and ought 
justly to arouse our whole souls into rapturous admiration, 
that not only does God extend to us the love which is due to 
the only-begotten Son, but he refers it to us as the final cause. 
And indeed there was no necessity that Christ should take 
upon him our flesh, in which he was beloved, but that it might 
be the pledge of the mercy of his Father in redeeming us. 

That I may take it again. As the disciples might be deeply 
grieved on account of what they had heard about the death of 
Christ, and as their faith might even be greatly shaken, he 
comforts them by the hope of his resurrection, which would 
speedily take place ; as if he said, that he would not die on 
the condition of being swallowed up by death, but in order 
that he might soon rise again as a conqueror. And even at the 
present day, we ought to contemplate the death of Christ, so 
as to remember, at the same time, the glory of his resurrec- 
tion. Thus, we know that he is life, because, in his contest 
with death, he obtained a splendid victory, and achieved a 
noble triumph. 

18. No mantahethit from me. This is another consolation, 
by which the disciples may take courage as to the death of 
Christ, that he does not die by constraint, but offers himself 
willingly for the salvation of his flock. Not only does he 
affirm that men have no power to put him to death, except 
so far as he permits them, but he declares that he is free from 
every violence of necessity. It is otherwise with us, for we 
are laid under a necessity of dying on account of our sins. 
True, Christ himself was born a mortal man ; but this was a 
voluntary submission, and not a bondage laid upon him by 
another. Christ intended, therefore, to fortify his disciples, 

VOL. I. 2 C 


that, when they saw him shortly afterwards dragged to death, 
they might not be dismayed, as if he had been oppressed by 
enemies, but might acknowledge that it was done by the 
wonderful Providence of God, that he should die for the 
redemption of his flock. And this doctrine is of perpetual 
advantage, that the death of Christ is an expiation for our 
sins, because it was a voluntary sacrifice, according to the 
saying of Paul, By the obedience of one many were made 
righteous, (Rom. v. 19.) 

But Hay it down of myself. These words may be explained 
in two ways ; either that Christ divests himself of life, but 
still remains what he was, just as a person would lay aside a 
garment from his body, or, that he dies by his own choice. 

This commandment have I received from my Father. He 
recalls our attention to the eternal purpose of the Father, in 
order to inform us that He had such care about our salvation, 
that he dedicated to us his only-begotten Son, great and 
excellent as he is -, 1 and Christ himself, who came into the 
world to be in all respects obedient to the Father, confirms 
the statement, that he has no other object in view than to 
promote our benefit. 

19. A division therefore arose again among the Jews on account of those 
sayings. 20. And many of them said, He bath a devil, and is mad : why 
do you hear him ? 21. Others said, These are not the words of a demoniac. 
Can a devil open the eyes of the blind ? 22. And it was the feast of 
Dedication at Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23. And Jesus was walking 
in the temple in Solomon's porch. 24. The Jews then surrounded him, 
and said to him, How long dost thou keep our soul in suspense ? If thou 
be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25. Jesus answered them, I have told you, 
but you do not believe. The works which I do in my Father's name 
testify of me. 26. But you do not believe, because you are not of my 
sheep, as I said to you. 27. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, 
and they follow me. 28. And I give them eternal life, and they shall 
never perish, nor shall any one wrest them out of my hand. 29. My 
Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all ; and none can wrest 
them out of my Father's hand. 30. I and my Father are one. 

19. A division therefore arose again. The advantage gained 
by Christ's discourse was, that it procured him some disciples ; 
but as his doctrine has also many adversaries, hence arises a 
division, so that they are split into parties, who formerly 
appeared to be one body of the Church. For all, with one 

grand et excellent qu'il pent estre." 


consent, professed that they worshipped the God of Abraham 
and complied with the Law of Moses ; but now, when Christ 
comes forward, they begin to differ on his account. If that 
profession had been sincere, Christ, who is the strongest 
bond of charity, and whose office it is to gather those things 
which are scattered, would not break up their agreement. 
But Christ, by the light of his Gospel, exposes the hypocrisy 
of many who, while they had nothing but a false and hypo- 
critical pretence, boasted that they were the people of God. 
Thus, the wickedness of many is still the reason why the 
Church is troubled by divisions, and why contentions are 
kindled. Yet those who disturb the peace, throw the blame 
on us, and call us Schismatics ; for the principal charge which 
the Papists bring against us is, that our doctrine has shaken 
the tranquillity of the Church. Yet the truth is, that, if 
they would yield submissively to Christ, and give their sup- 
port to the truth, all the commotions would immediately be 
allayed. But when they utter murmurs and complaints 
against Christ, and will not allow us to be at rest on any 
other condition than that the truth of God shall be extin- 
guished, and that Christ shall be banished from his kingdom, 
they have no right to accuse us of the crime of schism ; for 
it is on themselves, as every person sees, that this crime ought 
to be charged. We ought to be deeply grieved that the 
Church is torn by divisions arising among those who profess 
the same religion ; but it is better that there are some who 
separate themselves from the wicked, to be united to Christ 
their Head, than that all should be of one mind in despising 
God. Consequently, when schisms arise, we ought to inquire 
who they are that revolt from God and from his pure 

20. He hath a devil. They employ the most offensive 
reproach which they can devise, in slandering Christ, that 
all may shudder at the thought of hearing him. For wicked 
men, that they may not be forced to yield to God, in a 
furious manner, and with closed eyes, break out into proud 
contempt of him, and excite others to the same rage, so that 
not a single word of Christ is heard in silence. But the 


doctrine of Christ has sufficient power in itself to defend it 
against slanders. And this is what believers mean by their 

21. These are not the words of a demoniac. It is as if they 
demanded that men should judge from the fact itself; for the 
truth, as we have said, is strong enough to maintain itself. 
And this is the only protection of our faith, that wicked men 
will never be able to hinder the power and wisdom of God, 
and his goodness also, 1 from shining in the Gospel. 

22. And it was the feast of Dedication. The Greek word 
(synaivia,) which we have translated dedication, 2 properly sig- 
nifies renovations ; because the temple, which had been pol- 
luted, was again consecrated by the command of Judas 
Maccabasus ; and at that time it was enacted that the day of 
the new dedication or consecration should be celebrated every 
year as a festival, that the people might recall to remembrance 
the grace of God, which had put an end to the tyranny of 
Antiochus. Christ appeared in the temple at that time, ac- 
cording to custom, that his preaching might yield more abun- 
dant fruit amidst a large assembly of men. 

23. And Jesus was walking in the temple, in Solomon's porch. 
The Evangelist gives to Solomon's porch the designation of 
the temple ; not that it was the sanctuary, but only an append- 
age to the temple. Nor does he mean the ancient porch which 
was built by Solomon, which had been altogether destroyed 
by the Chaldeans, but that which the Jews — perhaps imme- 
diately after their return from the Babylonish captivity — . 
built after the pattern of the ancient porch, and gave it the 
same name, that it might be more highly honoured ; and 
Herod afterwards built a new temple. 

24. The Jews therefore surrounded him. This was undoubt- 
edly a cunning attack on Christ, at least on the part of those 

1 " Et aussi sa bonte." 

- " Le mot Grec pour lequel nous avons mis Dedieace." 


with whom the scheme originated. For the common people 
might, without any fraud, desire that Christ would openly 
declare that God had sent him to be a deliverer ; but a few 
persons, by trick and stratagem, wished to draw this word 
from him amidst the crowd, that he might be killed by a 
mob, or that the Komans might lay hands on him. 

How long dost thou keep our soul in suspense ? By complain- 
ing of being kept in suspense, they pretend that they are so 
ardently desirous of the promised redemption, that their 
minds are eagerly and incessantly occupied by the expecta- 
tion of Christ. And this is the true feeling of piety, to find 
nowhere else than in Christ alone, what will satisfy our 
minds, or give them true composure ; as he himself says, Come 
to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will 
refresh you, and your souls shall fold rest, (Matth. xi. 28, 29.) 
Therefore, those who come to Christ ought to be prepared in 
the same manner as those men pretend to be. But they are 
wrong in accusing Christ, as if he had not hitherto confirmed 
their faith ; for it was entirely their own fault that they had 
not a full and perfect knowledge of him. But this is always 
the case with unbelievers, that they choose rather to remain 
in doubt than to be founded on the certainty of the word of 
God. Thus, in our own day, we see many who voluntarily 
shut their eyes, and spread the clouds of their doubt, in order 
to darken the clear light of the Gospel. We see also many 
light spirits, who fly about in idle speculations, and never 
find, throughout their whole life, a permanent abode. 

Tell us plainly. When they demand that Christ shall 
declare himself freely, or openly and boldly, their meaning is, 
that he may no longer convey his meaning indirectly, and in 
a circuitous manner. Thus they charge his doctrine with 
obscurity, which, on the contrary, was abundantly plain and 
distinct, if the men who heard it had not been deaf. Now 
tins history warns us, that we cannot avoid the artifices and 
slanders of wicked men, if we are called to preach the Gospel. 
Wherefore, we ought to be on the watch, and not to be sur- 
prised at it as a new thing, when the same thing happens to 
us as to our Master. 


25. I have told you. Our Lord Jesus 1 does not conceal 
that he is the Christ, and yet he does not teach them as if 
they were willing to learn, but rather reproaches them with 
obstinate malice, because, though they had been taught by 
the word and works of God, they had not yet made any pro- 
gress. Accordingly, that they do not know him, he imputes 
to their own fault, as if he said : " My doctrine is easily 
enough understood, but the blame lies with you, because you 
maliciously resist God." 

The works which I do. He speaks of his icorks, in order to 
convict them of being doubly obstinate ; for, besides the 
doctrine, they had a striking testimony in his miracles, if they 
had not been ungrateful to God. He twice repeats the 
words, You do not believe, in order to prove that, of their own 
accord, they were deaf to doctrine, and blind to works ; which 
is a proof of extreme and desperate malice. He says that he 
did the ivorks in the name of las Father; because his design was, 
to testify the power of God in them, by which it might be 
openly declared that he came from God. 

26. Because you are not of my sheep. He assigns a higher 
reason why they do not believe either in his miracles or in his 
doctrine. It is, because they are reprobate. We must 
observe Christ's design ; for, since they boasted of being the 
Church of God, that their unbelief may detract nothing from 
the authority of the Gospel, he affirms that the gift of believ- 
ing is a special gift. And, indeed, before that men know God, 
they must first be known by him, as Paul says, (Gal. iv. 9.) 
On the other hand, those to whom God does not look must 
always continue to look away from him. If any one murmur 
at this, arguing that the cause of unbelief dwells in God, 
because he alone has power to make sheep ; I reply, He is 
free from all blame, for it is only by their voluntary malice 
that men reject his grace. God does all that is necessary to 
induce them to believe, but who shall tame wild beasts? 2 
This will never be done, till the Spirit of God change them 

1 " Nostre Seigneur Jesus." 

2 "Mais qui apprivoisera des bestes sauvagesV" 


into sheep. They who are wild will in vain attempt to throw 
on God the blame of their wildness, for it belongs to their own 
nature. In short, Christ means that it is not wonderful, if 
there arc few who obey his Gospel, because all whom the Spirit 
of God does not subdue to the obedience of faith are wild 
and fierce beasts. So much the more unreasonable and 
absurd is it, that the authority of the Gospel should depend 
on the belief of men ; but believers ought rather to consider, 
that they arc the more strongly bound to God, because, while 
others remain in a state of blindness, they are drawn to Christ 
by the illumination of the Spirit. Here, too, the ministers of 
the Gospel have ground of consolation, if their labour be 
not profitable to all. 

27. My slier j> hear my voice. He proves by an argument 
drawn from contraries, that they are not sheep, because they 
do not obey the Gospel. For God effectually calls all whom 
he has elected, so that the sheep of Christ are proved by their 
faith. And, indeed, the reason why the name of sheep is 
applied to believers is, that they surrender themselves to 
God, to be governed by the hand of the Chief Shepherd, and, 
laying aside the fierceness of their nature, become mild and 
teachable. It is no small consolation to faithful teachers, 
that, though the greater part of the world do not listen to 
Christ, yet he has his sheep whom he knows, and by whom he 
is also known. Let them do their utmost to bring the whole 
world into the fold of Christ ; but when they do not succeed 
according to their wish, let them be satisfied with this single 
consideration, that they who are sheep will be gathered by 
their agency. The rest has been already explained. 

28. And they shall never perish. It is an inestimable fruit 
of faith, that Christ bids us be convinced of our security 
when we are brought by faith into his fold. But we must 
also observe on what foundation this certainty rests. It is 
because he will be a faithful guardian of our salvation, for he 
testifies that our salvation is in his hand. And if this were 
not enough, he says that they will be safely guarded by the 


power of his Father. This is a remarkable passage, by which 
we are taught that the salvation of all the elect is not less 
certain than the power of God is invincible. Besides, Christ 
did not intend to throw this word foolishly into the air, but 
to give a promise which should remain deeply fixed in their 
minds ; and, therefore, we infer that the statement of Christ 
is intended to show that the elect are absolutely certain of 
their salvation. We are surrounded, indeed, by powerful 
adversaries, and so great is our weakness, that we are every 
moment in imminent danger of death ; but as He who keeps 
what we have committed to him (2 Tim. i. 12) is greater or 
more powerful than all, we have no reason to tremble as if 
our life were in danger. 

Hence, too, we infer how mad is the confidence of the 
Papists, which relies on free-will, on their own virtue, and on 
the merits of their works. Widely different is the manner 
in which Christ instructs his followers, to remember that, in 
this world, they may be said to be in the midst of a forest, 
surrounded by innumerable robbers, and are not only un- 
armed and exposed as a prey, but are aware that the cause 
of death is contained in themselves, so that, relying on the 
guardianship of God alone, they may walk without alarm. In 
short, our salvation is certain, because it is in the hand of 
God ; for our faith is weak, and we are too prone to waver. 
But God, who has taken us under his protection, is sufficiently 
powerful to scatter, with his breath alone, all the forces of 
our adversaries. It is of great importance for us to turn our 
eye to this, that the fear of temptations may not dismay us ; 
for Christ even intended to point out the way in which sheep 
are made to live at ease in the midst of wolves. 

And none can wrest them out of my Fathers hand. The 
word and, in this passage, means therefore. For, since the 
power of God is invincible, Christ infers that the salvation 
of believers is not exposed to the ungovernable passions of 
their enemies, because, ere they perish, God must be over- 
come, who has taken them under the protection of his hand. 

30. / and my Father are one. He intended to meet the 
jeers of the wicked ; for they might allege that the power of 


God did not at all belong to him, so that he could promise to 
his disciples that it would assuredly protect them. lie there- 
fore testifies that his affairs are so closely united to those of 
the Father, that the Father's assistance will never be with- 
held from himself and his sheep. The ancients made a wrong 
use of this passage to prove that Christ is (j><j,oo-li<sios) of the 
same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue 
about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which 
he has with the Father, so that whatever is done by Christ 
will be confirmed by the power of his Father. 

31. Then the Jews again took up stones to stone him. 32. Jesus an- 
Bwered them, .Many good works I have shown you from my Father. For 
which of works do } ou stone me? 33. The Jews answered him, 
We -lone thee not for the sake of a good work, but for blasphemy, and, 
because thou, being a man, makcst thyself God. 34. Jesus answered 
them, Is it not written in your Law. I said, You are gods? "6b. If it called 
them gods, to whom the word of God was addressed, and Scripture cannot 
be broken, 36. Do you say that I, whom the Father sanctified and sent 
into the world, blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God ? 

31. Then the Jews again took up stones. As true religion, 
in maintaining the glory of God, burns with its own zeal 
which the Spirit of God directs, so unbelief is the mother of 
rage, and the devil hurries on the wicked in such a manner, 
that they breathe nothing but slaughter. This result shows 
with what intention they put the question to Christ ; for the 
open confession, of which they pretended to be desirous, in- 
stantly drives them to madness. And yet, though they are 
hurried along, with such violence, to oppress Christ, there 
can be no doubt that they assigned some plausible reason for 
their judgment, as if they were acting according to the in- 
junction of the Law, by which God commands that false 
prophets shall be stoned, (Deut. xiii. 5.) 

32. Many good works I have shown you. Here Christ not 
only says that they have no reason for their cruelty, but 
accuses them of ingratitude, in making so unjust a requital for 
God's favours. Nor does he only state that he has done them 
a service by one or two works, but that in many ways he has 
been kind to them. Next, he upbraids them with being un- 
grateful, not only to himself, but rather to God, when he 


says that he is the minister of the Father, who openly mani- 
fested his power, that it might be known and attested to them. 
For when he says that the good works were from the Father, he 
means that God was the Author of them. The meaning may 
be thus summed up, " God intended to make known to you, 
by me, distinguished benefits ; he has conferred them upon you 
by my hand. Banish me as much as you please, I have done 
nothing that does not deserve praise and good-will. In per- 
secuting me, therefore, you must show your rage against the 
gifts of God." But the question has greater force to pierce 
their consciences than if he had made a direct assertion. 

33. We stone thee not for a good work. Though wicked men 
carry on open war with God, yet they never wish to sin 
without some plausible pretence. The consequence is, that 
when they rage against the Son of God, they are not content 
with this cruelty, but bring an unprovoked accusation against 
him, and constitute themselves advocates and defenders of 
the glory of God. A good conscience must therefore be to 
us a wall of brass, by which we boldly repel the reproaches 
and calumnies with which we are assailed. For whatever 
plausibility may adorn their malice, and whatever reproach 
they may bring on us for a time, if we fight for the cause of 
God, he will not refuse to uphold his truth. But as the 
Avicked never want pretences for oppressing the servants of 
God, and as they have also hardened impudence, so that, 
even when vanquished, they do not cease to slander, we have 
need of patience and meekness, to support us to the end. 

But for blasphemy. The word blasphemy, which among 
profane authors denotes generally every kind of reproach, 
Scripture refers to God, when his majesty is offended and 

Because thou, being a man, makest thyself God. There are 
two kinds of blasphemy, either when God is deprived of the 
honour which belongs to him, or when anything unsuitable to 
his nature, or contrary to his nature, is ascribed to him. 
They argue therefore that Christ is a blasphemer and a sacri- 
legious person, because, being a mortal man, he lays claim to 
Divine honour. And this would be a just definition of bias- 


phony, if Christ were nothing more than a man. They only 
err In this, that they do not design to contemplate his Divin- 
ity, which was conspicuous in his miracles. 

34. Is it not written in your Law ? He clears himself of the 
crime charged against him, not by denying that he is the 
Son of God, but by maintaining that he had justly said so. 
Yet he adapts his reply to the persons, instead of giving a full 
explanation of the fact ; for he reckoned it enough for the 
present to expose their malice. In what sense he called him- 
self the Son of God he does not explain fully, but states in- 
directly. The argument which he employs is not draAvn 
from equals, but from the less to the greater. 

I said, You are gods. Scripture gives the name of gods to 
those on whom God has conferred an honourable office. He 
whom God has separated, to be distinguished above all others, 
is far more worthy of this honourable title. Hence it follows, 
that they are malicious and false expounders of Scripture, 
who admit the first, but take offence at the second. The 
passage which Christ quotes is in Psalm lxxxii. G, I have said, 
You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High ; 
where God expostulates with the kings and judges of the 
earth, who tyrannically abuse their authority and power for 
their own sinful passions, for oppressing the poor, and for 
every evil action. He reproaches them that, unmindful of 
Him from whom they received so great dignity, they profane 
the name of God. Christ applies this to the case in hand, 
that they receive the name of gods, because they are God's 
ministers for governing the world. For the same reason 
Scripture calls the angels gods, because by them the glory of 
God beams forth on the world. "We must attend to the mode 
of expression : 

35. To whom the word of God was addressed. For Christ 
means that they were authorized by an undoubted command 
of God. Hence we infer that empires did not spring up at 
random, nor by the mistakes of men, but that they were ap- 
pointed by the will of God, because he wishes that political 
order should exist among men, and that we should be go- 


verned by usages and laws. For this reason Paul says, 
that all who resist the power are rebels against God, because 
there is no power but what is ordained by God, (Rom. xiii. 1, 
2.) It will, perhaps, be objected, that other callings also 
are from God, and are approved by him, and yet that we do 
not, on that account, call farmers, or cowherds, or cobblers, 
gods. I reply, this is not a general declaration, that all who 
have been called by God to any particular way of living are 
called gods ; but Christ speaks of kings, whom God has raised 
to a more elevated station, that they may rule and govern. 
In short, let us know that magistrates are called gods, because 
God has given them authority. Under the term Law, Christ 
includes the whole doctrine by which God governed his 
ancient Church ; for since the prophets were only expounders 
of the Law, the Psalms are justly regarded as an appendage 
to the Law. That the Scripture cannot be broken means, that 
the doctrine of Scripture is inviolable. 

36. Whom the Father hath sanctified. There is a sanctifica- 
tion that is common to all believers. But here Christ claims 
for himself something far more excellent, namely, that he 
alone was separated from all others, that the power of the 
Spirit and the majesty of God might be displayed in him ; 
as he formerly said, that him hath God the Father sealed, 
(John vi. 27.) But this refers strictly to the person of 
Christ, so far as he is manifested in the flesh. Accordingly, 
these two things are joined, that he has been sanctified and 
sent into the world. But we must also understand for what 
reason and on what condition he was sent. It was to bring 
salvation from God, and to prove and exhibit himself, in every 
possible way, to be the Son of God. 

Do you say that I blaspheme ? The Arians anciently tor- 
tured this passage to prove that Christ is not God by nature, 
but that he possesses a kind of borrowed Divinity. But this 
error is easily refuted, for Christ does not now argue what 
he is in himself, but what we ought to acknowledge him to 
be, from his miracles in human flesh. For we can never com- 
prehend his eternal Divinity, unless we embrace him as a 
Redeemer, so far as the Father hath exhibited him to us. 


Besides, we ought to remember what I have formerly sug- 
gested, that Christ does not, in this passage, explain fully 
and distinctly what he is, as he would have done among his 
disciples ; but that he rather dwells on refuting the slander 
of his enemies. 

37. If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38. But if I 
do, 1 though you believe not me, believe the works ; that you may know 
and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him. 39. Therefore they 
sought again to seize him, but he escaped' 2 out of their hands. 40. And 
again he went away beyond Jordan, to the place where John first bap- 
tized, and abode there. 41. And many came to him, and said, John in- 
deed did no miracle ; but all that John spoke about this man was true. 
42. And many believed on him there. 

37. If I do not the works. Lest the Jews might reply that 
it was in vain for him to boast of sanctification, and of all that 
depended on it, he again draws their attention to his miracles, 
in which there was a sufficiently evident proof of his Divinity. 
This is in the shape of a concession, as if he had said, " I do 
not wish you to be bound to give me credit on any other con- 
dition than that you see the fact plainly before your eyes. 3 
You may safely reject me, if God has not openly given testi- 
mony to me." 

The works of my Father. He gives them this name, 
because those works were truly Divine, and because so great 
power shone in them, that they could not be ascribed to a 

38. But if I do. He shows that they are held plainly con- 
victed of unbelieving and sacrilegious contempt, because they 
render no reverence or honour 4 to what are undoubtedly the 
works of God. This is a second concession, when he says, 
" Though I allow you to doubt of my doctrine, you cannot 
deny, at least, that the miracles which I have performed are 
from God. You therefore openly reject God, and not a 

That you may know and believe. Though he places know- 

1 "Et si je les fay ;" — " and if I do them." 2 " Mais il eschappa." 

3 " Sinon que vous voyez le faict evident devant vos yeux." 

4 "Aucune reverence ni honneur." 


ledge before faith, as if faith were inferior to it, he does so, 
because he has to do with unbelieving and obstinate men, 
who never yield to God, until they are vanquished and con- 
strained by experience ; for rebels wish to know before they 
believe. And yet our gracious God indulges us so far, that he 
prepares us for faith by a knowledge of his works. But the 
knowledge of God and of his secret wisdom comes after 
faith, because the obedience of faith opens to us the door of 
the kingdom of heaven. 

That the Father is in me, and I in him. He repeats the 
same thing which he had said before in other words, 7" and 
my Father are one. All tends to this point, that in his 
ministry there is nothing contrary to his Father. " The Father, 
he says, is in me ; that is, Divine power is manifested in me." 

And lam in my Father ; that is, " I do nothing but by the 
command of God, so that there is a mutual connection be- 
tween me and my Father." For this discourse does not 
relate to the unity of essence, but to the manifestation of 
Divine power in the person of Christ, from which it was 
evident that he was sent by God. 

39. Therefore they sought again to seize him. This was 
undoubtedly that they might drive him out of the temple, 
and immediately stone him ; for their rage was not at all 
abated by the words of Christ. As to what the Evangelist 
says, that he escaped out of their hands, this could not be 
accomplished in any other way than by a wonderful exertion 
of Divine power. This reminds us that we are not exposed 
to the lawless passions of wicked men, which God restrains 
by his bridle, whenever he thinks fit. 

40. He went away beyond Jordan. Christ passed beyond 
Jordan, that he might not have to fight continually without 
any advantage. He has therefore taught us, by his example, 
that w r e ought to avail ourselves of opportunities, when they 
occur. As to the place of his retreat, the reader may con- 
sult the observations which I have made at Chapter I., verse 
28. 1 

1 See p. 62 of this volume. 


41. And many came to him. This large assembly shows 
that Christ did not seek solitude, in order to cease from the 
discharge of his duty, but to erect a sanctuary of God in the 
wilderness, when Jerusalem, which was his own abode and 
dwelling-place, x had obstinately driven him out. And indeed 
this was a dreadful vengeance of God, that, while the temple 
chosen by God was a den of robbers, (Jer. vii. 11 ; Matth. 
xxi. 13,) the Church of God was collected in a despised 

John indeed did no miracle. They infer that Christ is 
more excellent than John, because he has distinguished him- 
self by so many miracles, while John did not perform a single 
miracle. Not that we ought always to judge from miracles, 
but that miracles, when united with doctrine, have no small 
weight, as has already been repeatedly mentioned. Their 
argument is defective ; for they compare Christ with John, 
but they express only one part of the comparison. Besides, 
they take for granted, that John was an eminent prophet of 
God, and that he was endued with extraordinary grace of the 
Holy Spirit. They justly argue, therefore, that Christ ought 
to be preferred to John, because it was only by the fixed 
Providence of God that it was brought about that John, 
though in other respects a very great prophet, yet was not 
honoured by performing any miracle. Hence they conclude, 
that this was done on Christ's account, that he might be 
more highly esteemed. 

But all that John said. It appears that this was not spoken 
by themselves, but was added by the Evangelist, in order to 
show that there were two reasons which induced them to 
believe in Christ. On the one hand, 2 they saw that the testi- 
mony which John had given to him was true ; and, on the 
other hand, 3 the miracles of Christ procured for him greater 

1 " Qui estoit le propre siege et habitation de celuy." 

2 "D'uncoste." 3 " D'autrepart." 



1. Now one named Lazarus, of Bethany, the village of Mary and her 
sister Martha, was sick. 2. And it was that Mary who anointed the Lord 
with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus 
was sick. 3. The sisters therefore sent to him, saying, Lord, lo, he whom 
thou lovest is sick. 4. And Jesus, having heard this, said, This sickness is 
not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glori- 
fied by it. 5. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6. 
Having therefore heard that he was sick, he then remained two days in the 
place where he was. 7. And after this he saith to his disciples, Let us go 
into Judea again. 8. The disciples say to him, The Jews but lately sought 
to stone thee, and dost thou go thither again? 9. Jesus answered, Are 
there not twelve hours in the day ? If any man walk by dav, he stum- 
bleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10. But if any man 
walk by night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. 

1. And one named Lazarus tvassick. The Evangelist passes 
on to another narrative, which contains a miracle eminently 
worthy of being recorded. For not only did Christ give a 
remarkable proof of his Divine power in raising Lazarus, but 
he likewise placed before our eyes a lively image of our future 
resurrection. This might indeed be said to be the latest and 
concluding action of his life, for the time of his death was 
already at hand. We need not wonder, therefore, if he illus- 
trated his own glory, in an extraordinary manner, in that work, 
the remembrance of which he wished to be deeply impressed 
on their minds, that it might seal, in some respects, all that 
had gone before. There were others whom Christ had raised 
from the dead, but he now displays his power on a rotting 
corpse. But the circumstances which tend to magnify the 
glory of God in this miracle shall be pointed out in their 
proper place and order. 

Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 
The probable reason Avhy this circumstance is mentioned is, 
that Lazarus had not acquired so great celebrity among be- 
lievers as his sisters had ; for these holy women were accus- 
tomed to entertain Christ with their hospitality, as is evident 
from what is related by the Evangelist Luke, (x. 38.) It is 
really too ridiculous a blunder, to suppose that Monks, and 


such fry as the Papists have, made this small town or village 
a castle. 

2. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord. It is a similar 
display of ignorance, to imagine that this Mary, the sister of 
Lazarus, was that woman of wicked and infamous life, who 
is mentioned by Luke, (vii. 37.) This mistake was occa- 
sioned by the anointing; as if it were not evident enough that 
Christ was anointed on various occasions, and even at differ- 
ent places. The woman who was a sinner, of whom Luke 
gives an account, anointed Christ at Jerusalem, where he 
dwelt ; but Mary afterwards anointed him at Bethany, which 
was her own village. The past tense employed by the Evan- 
gelist, who anointed, must be referred, not to the time of 
the occurrence which he is now relating, but to the time 
when he wrote; as if he had said, "It was this Mary who 
afterwards poured on the head of Christ the ointment, on ac- 
count of which a murmuring arose among the disciples," 
(Matth. xxvi. 7.) 

3. Lo, he whom thou lovest is sick. The message is short, 
but Christ might easily learn from it what the two sisters 
wished ; for, under this complaint, they modestly state their 
request that he would be pleased to grant them relief. We 
are not forbidden, indeed, to use a longer form of prayer ; 
but our principal object ought to be, to pour into the bosom 
of God all our cares, and every thing that distresses us, that 
he may afford deliverance. Such is the manner in which the 
women act towards Christ: they plainly tell him their dis- 
tress, in consequence of which they expect some alleviation. 
We ought also to observe that, from Christ's love, they are 
led to entertain a confident hope of obtaining assistance, he 
whom thou lovest ; and this is the invariable rule of praying 
aright ; for, where the love of God is, there deliverance is 
certain and at hand, because God cannot forsake him ichom 
he loveth. 

4. Now Jesus, having heard this, said, Tins sickness is not to 
death. He intended by this reply to free his disciples from 

VOL. I. 2 D 


anxiety, thaf they might not take it amiss, when they saw 
him giving himself so little concern about the danger of his 
friend. That they might not be alarmed, therefore, about 
the life of Lazarus, he declares that the disease is not deadly, 
and even promises that it will be an additional occasion of 
promoting his own glory. Though Lazarus died, yet as Christ 
soon afterwards restored him to life, he now declares, looking 
to this result, that the disease is not to death. 

But for the glory of God. This clause is not contrasted 
with death, as if it were an argument that would always hold ; 
for we know that, even though the reprobate die, the glory of 
God is not less strikingly displayed in their destruction than 
in the salvation of believers. But Christ strictly meant, in 
this passage, the glory of God, which was connected with his 
office. The power of God, which was displayed in the 
miracles of Christ, was not fitted to strike terror, but was 
kind and gentle. When he says that there is no danger of 
death, because he intends to display in it his own glory and 
the glory of his Father, we ought to inquire for what pur- 
pose, and with what intention, he was sent by the Father ; 
which was, to save, and not to destroy. 

For the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorifed. 
This expression is highly emphatic ; for we learn from it that 
God wishes to be acknowledged in the person of his Son in 
such a manner, that all the reverence which he requires to be 
given to his own majesty 1 may be ascribed to the Son. 
Hence we were told formerly, He who doth not honour the Son 
doth not honour the Father, (John v. 23.) It is in vain for 
Mahometans and Jews, therefore, to pretend to worship God ; 
for they blaspheme against Christ, and even endeavour, in 
this manner, to rob God of himself. 

5. And Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 
These two things appear to be inconsistent with each other, 
that Christ remains two days beyond Jordan, as if he did not 
care about the life of Lazarus, and yet the Evangelist says, 
that Christ loved him and his sisters ; for, since love produces 

1 " A sa niiijeste.'" 


anxiety, he ought to have hastened immediately. As Christ 
is the only mirror of the grace of God, we are taught by this 
delay on his part, that we ought not to judge of the love of 
God from the condition which we see before our eyes. When 
we have prayed to him, he often delays his assistance, either 
that he may increase still more our ardour in prayer, or that 
he may exercise our patience, and, at the same time, accustom 
us to obedience. Let believers then implore the assistance of 
God, but let them also learn to suspend their desires, if he 
docs not stretch out his hand for their assistance as soon as 
they may think that necessity recpaires ; for, whatever may 
be his delay, he never sleeps, and never forgets his people. 
Yet let us also be fully assured that he wishes all whom he 
loves to be saved. 

7. And after this, he saith to his disciples. At length he now 
shows that he cared about Lazams, though the disciples 
thought that he had forgotten him, or, at least, that there 
were other matters which he reckoned of more importance 
than the life of Lazarus. He therefore enjoins them to cross 
the Jordan, and go to Judea. 

8. Rabbi, the Jens but lately sought to stone thee. When the 
disciples dissuade him from going, they do so, not so much 
perhaps on his account as on their own, for each of them is 
alarmed about himself, as the danger was common to all. 
Avoiding the cross, and being ashamed to own it, they allege 
— what is more plausible — that they are anxious about their 
Master. The same thing happens every day with many. 
For they who, through a dread of the cross, shrink from the 
performance of their duty, eagerly seek excuses to conceal 
their indolence, that they may not be thought to rob God of 
the obedience due to him, when they have no good cause to 
do so. 

9. Are there not twelve hours in the day ? This passage has 
been explained in various ways. Some have thought the 
meaning of these words to be, that men sometimes adopt a 
new and different resolution every hour. This is very far 


from Christ's meaning; and indeed I would not have reck- 
oned it worthy of being mentioned, had it not been that it 
has passed into a common proverb. Let us therefore be 
satisfied with the simple and natural meaning. 

First, Christ borrows a comparison from Day and Night. 
For if any man perform a journey in the dark, we need not 
wonder if he frequently stumble, or go astray, or fall ; but 
the light of the sun by day points out the road, so that there 
is no danger. Now the calling of God is like the light of 
day, which does not allow us to mistake our road orto stumble. 
Whoever, then, obeys the word of God, and undertakes no- 
thing but according to his command, always has God to guide 
and direct him from heaven, and with this confidence he may 
safely and boldly pursue his journey. For, as we are in- 
formed, Whosoever walketh in his ways hath angels to guard him, 
and, under their direction, is safe, so that he cannot strike his foot 
against a stone, (Ps. xci. 11.) Relying on this protection, 
therefore, Christ advances boldly into Judea, without any 
dread of being stoned ; for there is no danger of going astray, 
when God, performing the part of the sun, shines on us, and 
directs our course. 

We are taught by these words, that whenever a man allows 
himself to be guided by his own suggestions, without the 
calling of God, his whole life is nothing else than a course of 
wandering and mistake ; and that they who think themselves 
exceedingly wise, when they do not inquire at the mouth of 
God, and have not his Spirit to govern their actions, are 
blind men groping in the dark ; that the only proper way is, 
to be fully assured of our divine calling, and to have always 
God before our eyes as our guide. 1 This rule of regulating 
our life well is followed by a confident expectation of a pros- 
perous result, because it is impossible that God shall not 
govern successfully. And this knowledge is highly necessary 
to us ; for believers can scarcely move a foot to follow him, 
but Satan shall immediately interpose a thousand obstruc- 
tions, hold out a variety of dangers on every side, and con- 
trive, in every possible way, to oppose their progress. But 
when the Lord invites us to go forward, by holding out, as 
1 "Quand nous avons tousjours Dieu devant nos yeux pour nostre guide." 


it were, his lamp to us, we ought to go forward courageously, 
though many deaths besiege our path ; for he never commands 
us to advance without at the same time adding a promise to 
encourage us, so that we may be fully convinced, that what- 
ever we undertake agreeably to his command will have a 
good and prosperous issue. This is our chariot, and whoever 
betakes himself to it will never fail through weariness ; and 
even though the obstacles were so formidable that we could 
not be conveyed through them by a chariot, yet, furnished 
with these wings, we shall always succeed, till we reach the 
goal. Not that believers never meet with any adversity, 
but because adverse occurrences are aids to their salvation. 

It amounts to this, that the eyes of God will always be 
atteutive to guard those who shall be attentive to his instruc- 
tions. Hence we learn also that, whenever men overlook 
and disregard the word of God, and consequently indulge 
themselves foolishly, and undertake whatever they think 
right, the whole course of their life is accursed by God, and 
vengeance is always ready to punish their presumption and 
their blind passions. Again, Christ here divides the day into 
twelve hours, according to ancient custom ; for though the 
days are longer in summer and shorter in winter, 1 yet they 
had always twelve hours of the day, and twelve of the night. 

11. He spoke these things, and after this he saith to them, Our friend 
Lazarus sleepeth, but I go that I may awake him. 12. Then his disciples 
said, Lord, if he sleepeth, he will recover. 13. Now Jesus spoke of his 
death ; but they thought that he spoke of the repose of sleep. 14. Then 
Jesus, therefore, said to them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15. And I re- 
joice, on your account, that I was not there, that you may believe. But 
let us go to him. 16. Then Thomas, who is called Didymus, 2 said to his 
fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. 17. Jesus 
therefore came, and found that he had been already four days in the tomb. 

11. Our friend Lazarus sleepeth. Having formerly asserted 
that the disease was not deadly, that his disciples may not 
be too much distressed at seeing what they did not expect, 
he now informs them also that Lazarus is dead, and excites 
a hope of his resurrection. It is a proof of amazing ignor- 

l " Combien que les jours soyent plus grands en este, et plus petits en 

" 2 " Adonc Thomas, qui est a dire Gemeau ;"— " then Thomas, which 
means Twin." 


ance, that they believe that Christ spoke about sleep ; for, 
though it is a metaphorical form of expression, still it is so 
frequent and common in Scripture, that it ought to have 
been familiarly known to all the Jews. 

12. If he sleepeth, he will recover. 1 Replying that sleep will 
have a salutary effect on Lazarus, they thus endeavour 
indirectly to dissuade Christ' from going thither. And yet 
they do not craftily or deceitfully turn aside Christ's words 
to suit their own purpose, on the pretence of not understand- 
ing what he said ; 2 but, thinking that he spoke about sleep, 
they gladly seize this opportunity of avoiding danger. 
Augustine, and many writers since his time, speculate about 
the word sleep, alleging that the reason why it is applied to death 
is, because it is as easy for God to raise the dead to life, as it is 
for us to perform the customary act of awaking those who are 
asleep. But that nothing of this sort came into the mind of 
Christ, may be inferred from the constant use of the term in 
Scripture ; and since even profane writers usually apply this 
word Sleep to Death, 3 there was unquestionably no other 
reason why it came into use, but because a lifeless corpse lies 
without feeling, just as the body of a man who is in a pro- 
found sleep. Hence, also, sleep is not inappropriately called 
the image of death, and Homer calls it the brother of death, 
(zaciyvrirog davdrov.) Since this word denotes only the sleep 
of the body, it is prodigiously absurd to apply it — as some 
fanatics have done — to souls, as if, by being deprived of 
understanding, they were subject to death. 

But I go to awake him. Christ asserts his own power, when 
he says that he will come to awake Lazarus ; for, though, 
as we have said, the word sleep does not express the facility 
of the resurrection, yet Christ shows that he is Lord of death, 
when he says, that he awakes those whom he restores to life. 

14. Then Jesus told them plainly, Lazarus is dead. The 

1 "II sera guaii-i." 

2 " Corame faisans semblant tie n'entendre point ee que Christ dit." 

3 " Et niesmes veu que les autheurs profanes transferent coustumiere- 
raent ee mot de Dormir a la Mort." 


goodness of Christ was astonishing, in being able to bear 
with such gross ignorance in the disciples. And indeed the 
reason why he delayed, for a time, to bestow upon them the 
grace of the Spirit in larger measure, was, that the miracle of 
renewing them in a moment might be the greater. 

15. And I rejoice, on your account, that I was not there. Pie 
means that his absence was profitable to them, because his 
power would have been less illustriously displayed, if he had 
instantly given assistance to Lazarus. For the more nearly 
the works of God approach to the ordinary course of nature, 
the less highly are they valued, and the less illustriously is 
their glory displayed. This is what we experience daily ; for 
if God immediately stretches out his hand, we do not per- 
ceive his assistance. That the resurrection of Lazarus, there- 
fore, might be acknowledged by the disciples to be truly a 
Divine work, it must be delayed, that it might be very 
widely removed from a human remedy. 

We ought to remember, however, what I formerly ob- 
served, that the fatherly kindness of God towards us is here 
represented in the person of Christ. When God permits us 
to be overwhelmed with distresses, and to languish long 
under them, let us know that, in this manner, he promotes 
our salvation. At such a time, no doubt, we groan and are 
perplexed and sorrowful, but the Lord rejoices on account of 
our benefit, and gives a twofold display of his kindness to us 
in this respect, that he not only pardons our sins, but gladly 
finds means of correcting them. 

That you may believe. He does not mean that this was the 
first feeble commencement of faith in them, but that it was 
a confirmation of faith already begun, though it was still 
exceedingly small and weak. Yet he indirectly suggests 
that, if the hand of God had not been openly displayed, they 
would not have believed. 

16. Then Thomas. Hitherto the disciples had endeavoured 
to hinder Christ from going. Thomas is now prepared to 
follow, but it is without confidence ; or, at least, he does not 
fortify himself by the promise of Christ, so as to follow him 
with cheerfulness and composure. 


Let us go, that we may die with him. This is the language 
of despair, for they ought to have entertained no fears about 
their own life. The phrase, with him, may be explained as 
referring either to Lazarus or to Christ. If we refer it to 
Lazarus, it will be ironical, as if Thomas had said, "Of what 
use will it be to go thither, unless it be that we cannot dis- 
charge the duty of friends in any other manner than by seek- 
ing to die along with him V Yet I greatly prefer the other 
meaning, that Thomas does not refuse to die with Christ. 
But this, as I have said, proceeds from inconsiderate zeal ; 
for he ought rather to have taken courage from faith in the 

18. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs. 19. 
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them 
concerning their brother. 20. When Martha, therefore, heard that Jesus 
was coming, she went to meet him ; but Mary sat at home. 21. Martha 
then said to Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother would not 
have died. 22. But I know that even now, whatsoever thou shalt ask of 
God, God will give it thee. 23. Jesus saith to her, Thy brother shall 
rise again. 24. Martha saith to him, I know that he shall rise again in 
the resurrection at the last day. 25. Jesus said to her, I am the resur- 
rection and the life ; he who believeth in me, though he were dead, shall 
live. 26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. 
Believest thou this? 27. She saith to him, Yes, Lord, I believe that 
thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world. 

18. JYoio Bethany was near Jerusalem. The Evangelist 
diligently follows out all that contributes to the certainty of 
the narrative. He relates how near Jerusalem was to the 
village of Bethany, that no one may be astonished that, for 
the purpose of comforting the sisters, many friends came 
from Jerusalem, whom God intended to be witnesses of the 
miracle. For, though the desire of performing an office of 
kindness was their inducement to go, yet they were assem- 
bled there, by a secret decree of God, for another purpose, 
that the resurrection of Lazarus might not remain unknown, 
or that the witnesses might not be only those who belonged to 
the family. Now it is a convincing proof of the base ingrati- 
tude of the nation, that this striking demonstration of Divine 
power at a well-known place, amidst a vast crowd of men, 
and near the gates of the city, and which might almost be 
said to be erected on a stage, instantly vanishes from the eyes 


of men. We should rather say that the Jews, by maliciously 
shutting their eyes, intentionally do not see what is before 
their eyes. Nor is it a new or uncommon occurrence, that 
men who, with excessive eagerness, continually gape for 
miracles, are altogether dull and stupid in the consideration 
of them. 

About fifteen furlongs. This distance between the two 
places was somewhat less than two thousand paces, or, two 
miles; for the Stadium, or furlong, contains six hundred feet; 
that is, one hundred and twenty-five paces. 1 

19. To comfort them concerning their brother. This Avas, no 
doubt, the object which they had in view, but God had 
another object to accomplish, as we have stated. It is evi- 
dent from what is here mentioned, that the house of Lazarus 
and his sisters was greatly respected and honoured. Again, 
as it is natural that the death of friends should occasion grief 
and mourning to men, this duty, which the Evangelist men- 
tions, ought not to be blamed, unless on this ground, that 
sinful excess, which prevails in this and in other depart- 
ments of life, corrupts what is not in itself sinful. 

20. Martha having heard that Jesus was coming. Martha 
travels beyond the village, as we shall afterwards see, not 
only perhaps on account of the reverence which she bore to 
Christ, but that she might meet him more secretly ; for his 
danger was fresh in his recollection, and the rage of enemies 
had not well subsided, which had been a little abated by 
Christ's departure into Galilee, but might, on their hearing 
of his arrival, break out anew with greater violence. 

21. Lord, if thou hadst been here. She begins with a com- 
plaint, though in doing so she modestly expresses her wish. 
Her meaning maybe expressed thus — " By thy presence thou 

1 The Roman Passus, or pace — measured from the spot where either 
foot was planted to the spot where the same foot was planted after two 
ordinary steps — was five feet ; so that the Mil/e, or thousand paces, con- 
tained five thousand feet, rather less than an English mile ; and the Sta- 
dium, or furlong, which contained, as Calvin states, " one hundred and 
twenty-five paces," was equal to six hundred and twenty-five feet. — Ed. 


mightst have delivered ray brother from death, and even 
now thou canst do it, for God will not refuse thee any thing." 
By speaking in this manner, she gives way to her feelings, 
instead of restraining them under the rule of faith. I acknow- 
ledge that her words proceeded partly from faith, but I say 
that there were disorderly passions mixed with them, which 
hurried her beyond due bounds. For when she assures her- 
self that her brother would not have died, if Christ had been 
present, what ground has she for this confidence ? Certainly, 
it did not arise from any promise of Christ. 

The only conclusion therefore is, that she inconsiderately 
yields to her own wishes, instead of subjecting herself to 
Christ. When she ascribes to Christ power and supreme 
goodness, this proceeds from faith ; but when she persuades 
herself of more than she had heard Christ declare, that has 
nothing to do with faith ; l for we must always hold the 
mutual agreement between the word and faith, that no man 
may rashly forge anything for himself, without the authority 
of the word of God. Besides, Martha attached too much 
importance to the bodily presence of Christ. The conse- 
quence is, that Martha's faith, though mixed up and inter- 
woven with ill-regulated desires, and even not wholly free 
from superstition, could not shine with full brightness ; so 
that Ave perceive but a few sparks of it in these words. 

23. Thy brother shall rise again. The kindness of Christ 
is amazing, in forgiving those faults of Martha which we have 
mentioned, and in promising her, of his own accord, more 
than she had ventured plainly and directly to ask. 

24. I knoio that he shall rise again. We now see Martha's 
excessive timidity in extenuating the meaning of Christ's 
words. We have said that she went farther than she had a 
right to do, when she fabricated a hope for herself out of the 
feelings of her own mind. She now falls into an opposite 
fault ; for when Christ stretches forth his hand, she stops 
short, as if she were alarmed. We ought therefore to guard 

1 " Cela n'a rien de commun avcc la fov." 


fcsainst both of these extremes. On the one hand, Ave must 
not, without the authority of God's word, drink in empty- 
hopes, which will prove to be nothing but wind ; and, on the 
other hand, when God opens his mouth, it is not proper that 
he should find our hearts either blocked up, or too firmly 
closed. Again, by this reply, Martha intended to ascertain 
more than she ventured to expect from the words of Christ, 
as if she had said : " If you mean the last resurrection, I 
have no doubt that my brother will be raised again at the last 
day, and I comfort myself with this confident expectation, 
but I do not know if you direct my attention to something 

25. I am the resurrection and the life. Christ first declares 
that he is the resurrection and the life, and then he explains, 
separately and distinctly, each clause of this sentence. His 
first statement is, that he is the resurrection, because the 
restoration from death to life naturally comes before the state 
of life. Now the whole human race is plunged in death ; 
and, therefore, no man will be a partaker of life until he is 
risen from the dead. Thus Christ shows that he is the com- 
mencement of life, and he afterwards adds, that the continu- 
ance of life is also a work of his grace. That he is speaking 
about spiritual life, is plainly shown by the exposition which 
immediately follows, 

He who belicveth in me, though he were dead, shall live. Why 
then is Christ the resurrection ? Because by his Spirit he 
regenerates the children of Adam, who had been alienated 
from God by sin, so that they begin to live a new life. On 
this subject, I have spoken more fully under Chapter v. 21 
and 24 ; l and Paul is an excellent interpreter of this passage, 
(Eph. ii. 5, and v. 8.) Away now with those who idly talk 
that men are prepared for receiving the grace of God by the 
movement of nature. They might as well say that the dead 
walk. For that men live and breathe, and are endued with 
sense, understanding, and will, all this tends to their destruc- 
tion, because there is no part or faculty of the soul that is 

* See pp. 200 and 204 of this volume. 


not corrupted and turned aside from what is right. Thus it 
is that death everywhere holds dominion, for the death of the 
soul is nothing else than its being estranged and turned aside 
from God. * Accordingly, they who believe in Christ, though 
they were formerly dead, begin to live, because faith is a 
spiritual resurrection of the soul, and — so to speak — animates 
the soul itself that it may live to God ; according to that 
passage, The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and 
they ivho hear shall live, (John v. 25.) This is truly a remark- 
able commendation of faith, that it conveys to us the life 
of Christ, and thus frees us from death. 

26. And whosoever liveth, and believeth in me. This is the 
exposition of the second clause, how Christ is the life ; and he 
is so, because he never permits the life which he has once be- 
stowed to be lost, but preserves it to the end. For since 
flesh is so frail, what would become of men, if, after having 
once obtained life, they were afterwards left to themselves ? 
The perpetuity of the life must, therefore, be founded on the 
power of Christ himself, that he may complete what he has 

Shall never die. The reason why it is said that believers 
never die is, that their souls, being born again of incorruptible 
seed, (1 Pet. i. 23,) have Christ dwelling in them, from whom 
they derive perpetual vigour ; for, though the body be subject 
to death on account of sin, yet the spirit is life on account of 
righteousness, (Kom. viii. 10.) That the outward man daily 
decays in them is so far from taking anything away from their 
true life, that it aids the progress of it, because the inward 
man is renewed from day to day, (2 Cor. iv. 1 6.) What is still 
more, death itself is a sort of emancipation from the bondage 
of death. 

Dost thou believe this? Christ seems, at first sight, to dis- 
course about spiritual life, for the purpose of withdrawing the 
mind of Martha from her present desire. Martha wished 
that her brother should be restored to life. Christ replies, 
that he is the Author of a more excellent life ; and that is, 

1 u N'est autre chose qu'estre estrange etdetourne de Dicu." 


because he quickens the souls of believers by divine power. 
Yet I have no doubt that he intended to include both favours; 
and therefore he describes, in general terms, that spiritual life 
which he bestows on all his followers, but wishes to give them 
some opportunity of knowing this power, which he was soon 
afterwards to manifest in raising Lazarus. 

27. Yes, Lord. To prove that she believes what she had 
heard Christ say about himself, that he is the resurrection and 
the life, Martha replies, that she believes that he is the Christy and 
the Son of God ; and indeed this knowledge includes the sum 
of all blessings ; for we ought always to remember for what 
purpose the Messiah was promised, and what duty the pro- 
phets ascribe to him. Now when Martha confesses that it 
ivas he who was to come into the world, she strengthens her 
faith by the predictions of the prophets. Hence it follows, 
that we ought to expect from him the full restoration of all 
things and perfect happiness ; and, in short, that he was sent 
to erect and prepare the true and perfect state of the kingdom 
of God. 

28. Having said these things, she went away, and called Mary her 
sister secretly, saying, The Master is here, and calleth for thee. 29. As 
soon as she heard it, she immediately arose, and came to him. 30. Now 
Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was in the place where 
Martha met him. 31. Then the Jews, who were with her in the house, 
and comforted her, perceiving that Mary suddenly arose and went out, 
followed her, saying, She goeth to the tomb, to weep there. 32. Mary 
therefore, having come where Jesus was, and having seen him, fell at his 
feet, saying to him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother would not 
have died. 33. Jesus therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews 
who came with her also 1 weeping, groaned in his spirit, and was troubled, 
34. And said, Where have you laid him ? They say to him, Lord, come 
and see. 35. Jesus wept. 36. The Jews therefore said, Behold how he 
loved him ! 2 37. And some of them said, Could not this man, who opened 
the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not die ? 
38. Then Jesus, again groaning within himself, came to the tomb. Now 
it was a cave, and a stone was placed on it. 

28. And called Mary, her sister. It was probably at the 
request of Martha, that Christ remained on the outside of the 

1 " Aussi." 2 "Vovez'comme il l'aimoit ! " — " see how he loved him !" 


village, that he might not enter into so great an assembly of 
people ; for she dreaded the danger, because Christ had but 
lately escaped with difficulty from instant death. Accord- 
ingly, that the rumour about his arrival might not spread 
farther, she makes it known privately to her sister. 

The Master is here. The word Master shows in what esti- 
mation Christ was held among those pious women. Though 
they had not hitherto profited so much as they might have 
done, still it was a'great matter that they were entirely devoted 
to him as his disciples ; and Mary's sudden departure, to come 
and meet him, was a proof that she regarded him with no 
ordinary reverence. 

31. Then the Jeivs who were with her. Though Martha 
was permitted by Christ to return home for the purpose of 
withdrawing her sister from the numerous assembly, yet 
Christ had another design in view, which was, that the Jews 
might be witnesses of the miracle. True, they have no 
thought of it, but it was no new thing that men should be 
led, as it were in darkness, and by the secret providence of 
God, where they did not intend to go. They think that 
Mary is going to the tomb, according to the custom of those 
who seek excitements of their grief. For it is a very preva- 
lent disease, that husbands deprived of their wives, parents 
deprived of their children, and, on the other hand, wives 
deprived of their husbands, and children deprived of their 
parents or other relatives and friends, are eager to increase 
their grief by every possible method. It is also customary 
to resort to various contrivances for this purpose. The 
affections of men are already sufficiently disordered ; but it 
is still worse, 1 that they inflame them by new excitements, 
that they may rush against God with greater ardour and 
violence. It was their duty to dissuade Mary from going, 
that the sight of the tomb might not give fresh occasion for 
her grief; yet they do not venture to apply so harsh a i-emedy, 
but even themselves contribute to the excess of her grief, by 
accompanying her to the tomb. Thus it frequently happens, 

1 " Mais voyci le pis." 


that they who treat too gently the excesses of their friends 
do them little good by their consolations. 

32. She fell at his feet. From her falling doicn at his feel 
we learn that Christ was honoured in that house beyond the 
ordinary custom of men. For, though it was customary to 
throw themselves down on the ground in the presence of 
kings and great men, yet as Christ had nothing about him, 
according to the flesh, that was royal or magnificent, it was for 
a different purpose that Mary/eZZ down at his feet. Indeed, 
she would not have done so, if she had not been convinced 
that he was the Son of God. 

Lord, if thou hadst been here. Though she appears to speak 
of Christ respectfully, yet we have lately pointed out what is 
faulty in these words ; for the power of Christ, which filled 
heaven and earth, ought not to have been limited to his bodily 

33. He groaned in his spirit. If Christ had not been excited 
to compassion by their tears, he would rather have kept his 
countenance unmoved, but when, of his own accord, he con- 
forms to those mourners, so far as to weep along with them, l 
he gives proof that he has sympathy, (gvpwdQsia.') For the 
cause of this feeling is, in my opinion, expressed by the 
Evangelist, when he says that Christ saio Mary and the rest 
weeping. Yet I have no doubt that Christ contemplated 
something higher, namely, the general misery of the whole 
human race ; for he knew well what had been enjoined on 
him by the Father, and why he was sent into the world, 
namely, to free us from all evils. As he has actually done 
this, so he intended to show that he accomplished it with 
warmth and earnestness. Accordingly, when he is about to 
raise Lazarus, before granting deliverance or aid, by the 
groaning of his spirit, by a strong feeling of grief, and by 
tears, he shows that he is as much affected by our distresses 
as if he had endured them in his own person. 

But how do groaning and trouble of mind belong to the 

1 " Quand de son bon gre il se conforme a ces pleurans, jusques 
plcurer avec eux." 


person of the Son of God ? As some reckon it absurd to say 
that Christ, as one of the number of human beings, was subject 
to human passions, they think that the only way in which he 
experienced grief or joy was, that he received in himself those 
feelings, whenever he thought proper, by some secret dispen- 
sation. It is in this sense, Augustine thinks, that the Evan- 
gelist says that he was troubled, because other men are 
hurried along by their feelings, which exercise dominion, or 
rather tyranny, to trouble their minds. He considers the 
meaning therefore to be, that Christ, though otherwise tran- 
quil and free from all passion, brought groaning and grief upon 
himself of his own accord. But this simplicity will, in my 
opinion, be more agreeable to Scripture, if we say that the 
Son of God, having clothed himself with our flesh, of his own 
accord clothed himself also with human feelings, so that he 
did not differ at all from his brethren, sin only excepted. In 
this way we detract nothing from the glory of Christ, when 
we say that it was a voluntary submission, by which he was 
brought to resemble us in the feelings of the soul. Besides, 
as he submitted from the very commencement, we must not 
imagine that he was free and exempt from those feelings ; 
and in this respect he proved himself to be our brother, in 
order to assure us, that we have a Mediator, who willingly 
pardons our infirmities, and who is ready to assist those 
infirmities which he has experienced in himself. 

It will perhaps be objected, that the passions of men are 
sinful, and therefore it cannot be admitted that we have them 
in common with the Son of God. I reply, there is a wide 
difference between Christ and us. For the reason why our 
feelings are sinful is, that they rush on without restraint, and 
suffer no limit ; but in Christ the feelings were adjusted and 
regulated in obedience to God, and were altogether free from 
sin. To express it more fully, 1 the feelings of men are sinful 
and perverse on two accounts ; first, because they are hurried 
along by impetuous motion, and are not regulated by the true 
rule of modesty ; and, secondly, because they do not always 
arise from a lawful cause, or, at least, are not directed to a 

1 " Pour mieux dire." 


lawful end. I say that there is excess, because no person 
rejoices or grieves, so far only as is sufficient, or as God per- 
mits, and there are even some who shake themselves loose 
from all restraint The vanity of our understanding brings 
us grief or sadness, on account of trifles, or for no reason 
whatever, because we are too much devoted to the world. 
Nothing of this nature was to be found in Christ ; for he had 
no passion or affection of his own that ever went beyond its 
proper bounds ; he had not one that was not proper, and 
founded on reason and sound judgment. 

To make this matter still more clear, it will be of import- 
ance for us to distinguish between man's first nature, as it 
was created by God, and this degenerate nature, which is 
corrupted by sin. When God created man, he implanted 
affections in him, but affections which were obedient and 
submissive to reason. That those affections are now disor- 
derly and rebellious is an accidental fault ; that is, it proceeds 
from some other cause than from the Creator. 1 Now Christ 
took upon him human affections, but without (ura-la) dis- 
order; for he who obeys the passions of the flesh is not 
obedient to God. Christ was indeed troubled and vehemently 
agitated ; but, at the same time, he kept himself in subjec- 
tion to the will of the Father. In short, if you compare his 
passions with ours, they will differ not less than pure and 
clear water, flowing in a gentle course, differs from dirty and 
muddy foam. 

The example of Christ ought to be sufficient of itself for 
setting aside the unbending sternness which the Stoics 
demand ; for whence ought we to look for the rule of 
supreme perfection but from Christ ? We ought rather to 
endeavour to correct and subdue that obstinacy which per- 
vades our affections on account of the sin of Adam, and, in 
so doing, to follow Christ as our leader, that he may bring us 
into subjection. Thus Paul does not demand from us hardened 
stupidity, but enjoins us to observe moderation in our mourn- 
ing, that tee may not abandon ourselves to grief, like unbelievers 
who have no hope, (1 Thess. iv. 13 ;) for even Christ took our 

1 " C'est a dire, venant d'ailleurs que du Createur." 
VOL. I. 2 E 


affections into himself, that by his power we may subdue 
every thing in them that is sinful. 

36. Behold, how he loved him! The Evangelist John here 
describes to us two different opinions which were formed 
about Christ. As to the former, who said, Behold, how he 
loved him ! though they think less highly of Christ than they 
ought to have done, since they ascribe to him nothing but 
what may belong to a man, yet they speak of him with 
greater candour and modesty than the latter, who maliciously 
slander him for not having hindered Lazarus from dying. 
For, though they applaud the power of Christ, of which the 
former said nothing, yet they do so, not without bringing 
against him some reproach. It is evident enough from their 
words, that the miracles which Christ had performed were 
not unknown to them ; but so much the more base is their 
ingratitude, that they do not scruple to complain, because 
now, in a single instance, he abstained from working. Men 
have always been uDgrateful to God in the same manner, 
and continue to be so. If he does not grant all our wishes, 
we immediately launch into complaints : " Since he has been 
accustomed to aid us hitherto, why does he now forsake and 
disappoint us ?" There is here a twofold disease. First, 
though we rashly desire what is not expedient for us, yet we 
wish to subject God to the perverse desires of the flesh. 
Secondly, we are rude in our demands, and the ardour of 
impatience hurries us before the time. 

38. Jesus therefore again groaning within himself. Christ 
does not approach